What Should You Look for When Hiring a Chimney Sweep?

Chimney sweeping isn’t a federally regulated industry, so unfortunately, anyone can buy a couple of tools and brushes and say that they’re qualified. But hiring the wrong team for the job can be a costly mistake.

A lot of chimney fires and fireplace issues can be avoided by proper maintenance, while problems and dangers can be exacerbated by unqualified chimney sweeps and their sub-par repair work. We’ve even had to go in and help homeowners after they’ve been scammed by some of these unqualified companies. One woman paid over $4,000 for repairs that were done wrong and was left with a fireplace that was too dangerous for use.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Chimney Sweep?

With all the different chimney sweep companies out there, you may be wondering what the difference is between the education, training, experience, and standards of each. What should you be looking for when you hire a chimney sweep?

First of all, you want to make sure the company is licensed and insured, and it’s always a good idea to ask for references as well. But one of the most important things you want to look for in a chimney sweep is CSIA certification.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is “a non-profit organization governed by volunteer industry professionals and technical experts.” The purpose of the CSIA is to keep homeowners safe and protect them against the dangers of fire, and since the 1980s, they’ve been doing this by offering the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential.

What does it mean to be CSIA certified & how does someone become CSIA certified?

The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential is earned only by those who have proven their technical expertise in the chimney sweeping and safety space. Each certified sweep must pass rigorous examination, while also agreeing to live by the CSIA’s strict code of ethics. Ongoing education is also required in order to maintain certification.

What types of standards are CSIA-certified techs held to?

As stated above, CSIA certified techs must prove a high level of technical proficiency, but they must also abide by a strict code of ethics. The pledge taken by a CSIA certified sweep is as follows:

  1. To learn and utilize all chimney and venting safety practices and techniques that are promoted by CSIA.
  2. To render my services in an honest and fair manner and to refrain from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices or making any unfair or deceptive statements including but not limited to with regard to use of the CSIA logos.
  3. To comply with all applicable building codes in the areas I service, with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the products I install, and with recognized chimney and venting practices.
  4. To promote and educate consumers about safe chimney and venting practices.
  5. To strive to continually update my knowledge, skills, and technique with regard to currently accepted chimney and venting safety practices.
  6. To conduct myself in a decent, respectful, and professional manner when serving in my capacity as a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep or CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician, or when attending a function or event of an organization in the chimney or hearth products industry.
  7. To comply with the proper usage of all CSIA Registered Trademarks as defined in the CSIA Trademark Use Guidelines documents.

If a CSIA certified sweep ever acts in a way that does not align with the code of ethics or attempts to scam a homeowner, their certification can be revoked by the CSIA itself.

Knowing Who To Trust…

So, here’s a question we’ve gotten: I had my chimney inspected by a CSIA certified chimney sweep who told me I needed to have a lot of work done. When I got a second opinion from a non-certified company, they said everything was fine. Who’s right?

For homeowners, it can be pretty confusing when they’re trying to figure out what their fireplace and chimney need, especially when they get two totally conflicting answers from two different companies. How can that be?

As CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we’re obligated to tell homeowners when their chimneys aren’t up to code and could be a danger to their homes and families. This isn’t a scare tactic or a tactic to get homeowners to pay for repairs they don’t need – it’s part of our shared code of ethics.

While a non-certified chimney sweep may tell you your system is safe for use, if it’s not up to code, we can’t go against our code of ethics, our pledge to the CSIA, and our pledge to our customers’ safety, and tell you that everything’s fine. We will always be honest and truthful, and we will always put our customers’ safety and well-being first. Even if that means losing a customer to a non-certified chimney sweep who’s willing to overlook important things, like codes.

For Safety & Peace of Mind, Choose a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep

Unfortunately, not every chimney sweep is concerned with your long-term (or even short-term) safety. So whether you choose Billy Sweet or another chimney sweep company for the job, make sure the company you choose to care for your chimney and fireplace is licensed, insured, and certified by the CSIA.

Still have questions about CSIA certification or want a second opinion after having your chimney checked or repaired by a non-certified company in the area? Give us a call or reach out online. We’re more than happy to help.


Interested in knowing more about us? Check out our service areas to see if Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep can provide your home with our outstanding services!