Chimney sweeping seems like a job that can be dangerous, but it also seems to attract many unqualified people since the industry is not regulated. This leaves it wide open for homeowners to be scammed when hiring a chimney sweep. Just about anyone is free to start a chimney cleaning businesses even if they have no training. However, all is not lost as there are ways you can protect yourself by asking the right questions before deciding to give the job of cleaning your chimney to anyone.
You need to know which institutions offer training for chimney sweeps, and which offer certification or membership. Two of these institutions are the National Fireplace Institute (NFI) and the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). While chimney sweeps do not need to get membership in these institutes, having membership is a sign that the sweep cares about professionalism. NFI certification is an advanced certification. Certification from the Chimney Sweep Institute of America (CSIA) is also nationally recognized. Chimney sweeps who have certification from CSIA would have gone through training in areas such as fire safety, as well as how to be professional and ethical in dealing with customers.
So when hiring a chimney sweep always make an effort to find out what institutions if any the sweep has membership in. Also find out if they have any certification and if it is up-to-date. Other steps to take to prevent being scammed are:
- Ask to see ID. Always check the identification of any chimney sweep before you allow that person in your home to work on your chimney or fireplace.
- Ask to see insurance verification. Check to see that there is business liability insurance in place.
- Ask for references. Not only should you ask for references, but you should check them out. This is important especially since anyone can be a chimney sweep in this unregulated industry. Checking references is obvious, but really important to help you avoid hiring a charlatan.
If you live in a state where chimney sweeps need to be licensed, you need to check if the sweep has a valid license. Chimney Sweeps do not need to be licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. Anyone can put a magnetic sign on their truck and say they clean chimneys. This does not mean they’re certified in any way.
Also, ask questions about how long the chimney sweep or the company has been in business, what kind of training they have, and what kind of certifications they maintain. Once you find a good chimney sweep, help protect yourself from scams by hiring them for regular maintenance on your chimney and fireplace.
Give us a call at 610-626-2439 if Lou Curley’s Chimney Service can assist you with your chimney needs this year. Both of our chimney sweeps are CSIA certified and hold several other certifications as well. Make sure to schedule your post-winter chimney inspection and cleaning by spring so we can get you on the schedule. Don’t wait until the end of summer, because that’s when our rush starts. Plan early and get it over with early.