Author – Marge Padgitt
Finding a good chimney sweep can be difficult..!!
Especially since there are few cities which regulate the chimney sweep industry. Most homeowners are not aware of the training necessary to do chimney sweeping and chimney inspection work correctly.
Other trades such as plumbers, electricians, and contractors, require licensing in most jurisdictions to protect the public, but most states do not require any type of licensing or testing for a person to become a chimney sweep.
Considering that chimney sweeps deal with fire inside homes, this should be a concern for homeowners.
Chimney sweeps may obtain training by working as an apprentice with an experienced sweep, or by going to Chimney Sweep training school at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) in Plainfield, Indiana.
The CSIA hosts a week-long school and Certification program for chimney sweeps, and offers additional education online and through regional association events. If a chimney sweep has gone the extra mile to obtain certifications in his field, this is a good indication that he or she is serious about their business and homeowner safety.
Chimney sweeps should know, among other things:
- standard chimney and fireplace building practices
- safety hazards associated with the job
- codes and standards
- clearances to combustibles
- how to properly identify chimney damages
- proper maintenance methods
Homeowners should look for a chimney sweep who has at least five years experience, has a good rating with the Better Business Bureau, and has worker’s compensation and liability insurance.
Without insurance coverage for the sweep’s company, the homeowner is legally responsible for any accidents that may occur on his property.
A good way to find a qualified chimney sweep is to check out several sweep’s websites. Look for someone who uses an internal camera inspection system, has proper ladders and fall protection, provides a written report and photos with the inspection and sweeping of a chimney, and has references or testimonials from homeowners.
When called to clean a chimney, the chimney sweep should protect the home from soot and dust with tarps and a vacuum, do a visual inspection first, sweep the flue from the top and/or bottom, inspect the flue and smoke chamber using an internal camera system, and if accessible, inspect the top of the chimney.
The chimney sweep should provide a verbal and written report of findings for the homeowner’s records. Some sweep’s reports have as many as 80 different items that are routinely checked during inspection.
If problems are found, the sweep should explain the issues thoroughly and offer repair options.
In the case of flue liner replacement, known as relining, a common needed repair, the sweep should offer a product that is suitable for the appliance it serves and explain why he believes it is the best solution.
Price should not be the biggest factor when looking for a good chimney sweep– in fact, the higher priced sweeps are most likely the best at their jobs. Higher price is usually an indication that a chimney sweep has the proper insurance, has the equipment needed to do the job correctly, and spends time each year in training to keep up with the latest code changes and sweeping methods. The lower priced sweeps likely keep their overhead low by not incurring costs for these important items
~ Marge Padgitt