How to Hire a Reputable Chimney Sweep That’ll “Soot” Your Needs

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Updated November 2, 2021
A large gray house with wood shingle and a chimne
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Because they can’t all be Bert from “Mary Poppins”

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No, your chimney sweep probably won’t sing “chim, chim, cher-ee” like Bert from “Mary Poppins,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone great. But just like with any contractor, you’ll want to research them before hiring. The following tips will help you choose a trustworthy chimney cleaning contractor—singing optional.

3 Common Warning Signs to Watch for With a Chimney Sweep Service

Father with son sitting near fireplace
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Your fireplace is the source of much happiness and warmth—but it needs a little TLC sometimes too. But before you hire a chimney sweep, you’ll want to make sure you’ve chosen a reputable company or contractor. 

Here are a few things to look out for to ensure you find a reputable chimney sweep contractor:

  • No permanent place of business: Make sure your contractor has a brick and mortar address, not just a P.O. box.

  • No insurance: Insurance is a must. A reputable service provider will have insurance to protect themselves, their employees, and their customers.

  • Large deposit or full payment in advance: While a service call fee isn’t unheard of, most reputable companies don’t require payment until after the service is complete.

Possible Chimney Scams

While most chimney companies are honest and reputable, you do need to watch out for potential scams. One common chimney scam to be mindful of is when a contractor from a chimney sweep company will call or email a homeowner and offer a discounted service. They will come to your home to inspect your chimney and may claim there is damage where there is none and warn the homeowner about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide is dangerous and is invisible and odorless. If your chimney service suggests you have a carbon monoxide problem, you should ask the technician to show you proof by using a carbon monoxide detector.

Occasionally, a dishonest chimney service may even bring broken pieces of masonry with them to the inspection and claim it came from your chimney.

How to Choose a Reputable Chimney Sweep Service

Chimney sweep cleaning on roof of a house
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It might be tempting just to pick a chimney service at random from the internet, but a little research can go a long way in ensuring you get quality service. A little bit of work on the front end can save you a lot of headache on the back end. 

There are several things to check for when hiring a chimney service.

  • Look for credentials: The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers licensing for chimney contractors. To become licensed, contractors must take courses and pass a licensure exam to prove their competency and expertise.

  • Check reviews and ask for references: Any legitimate chimney sweep service should not hesitate to offer references from previous clients. Similarly, check the internet for reviews from previous clients and look for before and after pictures.

  • Ensure the company is fully insured: In the event of accidental damage to your home, an insured company will be able to cover the cost of any repairs that are necessary. If you choose an uninsured contractor, chances are you’ll have to foot the bill for any repairs.

5 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Chimney Sweep

Asking a few questions of your chimney sweep when you call to get a quote is a great way to establish their experience and assuage any lingering concerns you may have. 

Consider questions like the following to get comfortable with your chimney sweep.

1.  How do you clean the chimney?

2.  How long should the process take?

3.  Will you be able to tell if there is creosote buildup in my chimney?

4.  Will you need to go onto the roof?

5.  Will you inspect the flue as well as clean the chimney?

Why Do You Need a Chimney Sweeper?

Fireplaces are a desirable feature for many people. Not only do they make for a cozy and inviting atmosphere, but they’re also a great way to save money on your heating bill every winter. Though many homeowners may not realize it, chimneys and fireplaces require regular inspections and maintenance to remain functional and safe. 

Creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, builds up on the interior of chimneys, presenting a significant fire hazard. Also, animals like birds and raccoons can build nests inside chimneys, causing a blockage that could result in the chimney not functioning properly.

How Often Should Your Chimney Be Cleaned?

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According to the National Fire Protection Association, chimneys should be inspected yearly to check for damage, buildup, or blockages and cleaned when necessary. If you use your fireplace or wood stove as a primary heat source, twice-yearly inspections might be necessary. 

If you only use your fireplace once or twice a year, creosote buildup probably won't be a problem, but you should still have an inspection to ensure there are no blockages from animal nests or other debris. 

Regular chimney maintenance is an important part of keeping you and your family warm and safe throughout the cold months. Look for a chimney sweep in your area who has a great online reputation and impressive reviews to ensure you hire a reputable contractor to service your chimney.

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