Finding the Right Chimney Sweep
The chimney services industry is mostly unregulated, so homeowners shouldn’t trust their home’s safety to just any chimney sweep. When looking for a chimney sweep, you should choose a company that will work professionally and safely. Many individuals claim to be a chimney sweep but lack the experience, training, and industry certifications. This is why you should be extra vigilant and ask the right questions when hiring a chimney sweep for your inspections, maintenance and cleanings.
How Long Have You Been Working as a Chimney Sweep?
While the lure of a low price may sound appealing, the chimney sweep may be offering a lower price due to their inexperience. A simple chimney sweep may not correctly clean the chimney or make inferior repairs that become a fire or safety hazard. Most chimney sweeps gain their experience working under a Certified Chimney Sweep®. Why? An experienced chimney sweep understands how chimneys and fireplaces function and where to look for potential problems and resolve them safely. They can also recognize the different creosote stages and its removal without damaging the chimney or staining your furniture.
Is Your Company Insured?
For your protection, always ensure that the chimney services provider has a workman’s compensation and business liability insurance policy. A contractor may be uninsured for several reasons, such as inexperience or low quality of work. An inexperienced chimney sweep is also more likely to get injured on the job or cause property damage. Hiring a chimney contractor that doesn’t carry insurance is risky, and you could be liable for any injuries or damages they cause on your property.
Do You Have CSIA Certification?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a non-profit industry organization that certifies chimney sweeps. To obtain this coveted certification, a chimney sweep must adhere to an industry code of ethics, pass rigorous courses and exams, demonstrate their competence and knowledge of the entire chimney system, and commit to maintaining industry best practices. A Certified Chimney Sweep® must also pass recurrent training programs to maintain their certification. If a contractor has taken the time to master the CSIA certification program, you can rest assured they are expert chimney professionals that can safely clean, diagnose, and repair any issues.
Do You Have Online Reviews?
The chimney sweep’s online reputation can be an indicator of future performance. A chimney sweep that has mostly negative reviews could be a cause of concern. It could be due to inexperience or other performance issues. On the other hand, don’t make a decision based on one or two low reviews. Consider their overall reputation on multiple online review sites. Some of the major review sites you can check online include Angie’s List™, Google, HomeAdvisor®, and Yelp.
Can You Provide References?
A chimney sweep that has been doing business in the community should be able to provide a list of references from satisfied customers. Contact these references and ask about the contractor’s performance, professionalism, and whether they would hire them again. If your neighbors are pleased with the chimney sweep, chances are you will be happy too.