Don’t Trust Just Any Chimney Sweep
Chimney cleaning is one of the most critical tasks that a chimney sweep performs. Failure to do it properly can increase the risk of fire, not to mention damaging the chimney or even your home resulting in costly repairs. When hiring a chimney sweep, the lowest priced contractor is not always the most experienced or qualified individual for the job. It requires training, experience, and professional tools to safely and efficiently clean, inspect, and repair chimneys. Here’s how to make sure the chimney sweep you hire is up to the task.
Verify CSIA certification
Some chimney providers may claim to be certified even though they are not accredited by an industry-standard organization. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is the nation’s leading educational and certifying body of chimney professionals. A chimney sweep earns certification upon completing a rigorous training program and successfully passing exams that demonstrate their knowledge of different types of chimney systems, equipment operation, maintaining a healthy and safe work environment, and other industry standards and best practices. When hiring a chimney sweep, ask for their certification and look for the CSIA logo.
Ask for insurance
Before trusting the safety of your home to a chimney sweep, make sure they carry valid professional liability and workman’s compensation insurance policies. Professional or business liability insurance protects homeowners against property damage that a contractor causes due to an accident or negligence while working in their home. Workman’s compensation insurance ensures homeowners won’t be sued or held liable if a contractor is injured while working on their property.
A reputable professional chimney sweep serving the community for years will have a list of satisfied customers that they can provide to prospective clients upon request. Some of the best recommendations come from neighbors that have hired the chimney sweep to clean, inspect, or repair their chimney and fireplace. You can also check out their online reviews to find out the experience of other customers. Finally, the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another resource you can use to determine if any unresolved complaints exist.
Length of time in business
Since experience matters, it is essential to ask the chimney sweep how long they have been in business. It takes years of experience working under a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® for a chimney professional to become proficient. Many unscrupulous companies will often change their names to hide customer complaints and poor reviews. If a contractor has been in business less than 5 years, proceed with caution and ask if they’ve ever operated under a different name or ownership.