We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Should I Consider Before Hiring a Chimney Sweep?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated Feb 18, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When home heating costs began to rise signficantly in the 1970s and 1980s, many homeowners turned to wood as a cheaper source of energy. Along with this renewed interest in firewood came a boom in the wood-burning stove market. While homeowners did enjoy a reduced dependency on expensive natural gas and electricity, wood-burning stoves brought back many of the problems homeowners faced a hundred years ago. Over time, the accumulation of soot, creosote and other by-products created a fire hazard which could only be eliminated by a professional chimney sweep. This created a new cottage industry of independent chimney cleaning companies and fireplace safety inspectors.

Before hiring a chimney sweep to clean out your fireplace flue or chimney, you should ask yourself a few questions. First of all, can you perform the same tasks yourself without going through the expense of hiring a professional? A chimney cleaner probably won't volunteer to clean out your collection of ashes or clean the visible portions of your stove or fireplace. Those tasks can be very messy and time-consuming, but a diligent homeowner can probably do just as well as a professional with the right cleaning equipment. If your needs are largely cosmetic, you shouldn't need to call in a cleaner.

If you've been burning wood for several months, especially oily firewoods such as pine, you'll need a professional chimney sweep to remove build-up of a natural substance called creosote. Creosote is released while the firewood burns and naturally clings to the inner walls of the flue or chimney. Unlike soot, creosote cannot be removed with a wire brush alone. If the accumulated creosote and soot become hot enough, the result is often a chimney fire. If you regularly burn oily firewoods and suspect a build-up of creosote, definitely call a professional cleaner. He or she may use chemicals in addition to brushes to break up the hardened creosote.

Before hiring a chimney sweep, you may want to ask for the company's credentials or the sweep's level of training. Chimney cleaning companies often belong to national trade associations with strict guidelines concerning training and services. Independent chimney sweeps may also receive certification from recognized fire safety training centers. Unfortunately, the increased demand for chimney cleaning services has lead to a number of fly-by-night operations. A trained chimney sweep should do more than run a wire brush through the chimney several times and leave. Word-of-mouth advertising from neighbors with wood-burning stoves should provide solid leads.

Another consideration is availability. A chimney sweep has his or her own busy season, much like a tax preparer. Most customers try to hire one during the fall or winter months in order to prepare for cold weather. It might be easier to schedule an appointment for late spring or summer for anything other than an emergency. Some homes with a heavy dependency on woodburning stoves may need three or four cleanings throughout the coldest months. Ask about availability -- you may have to wait several months for an opening.

If there are budgetary concerns, try to find a chimney sweep who only performs cleanings and inspections, not repairs. Sweeps who work for larger maintenance companies may suddenly discover several other problems during a cleaning session, leaving the owner vulnerable to additional service plans. A good sweep should have state-of-the-art inspection equipment and cleaning tools, but should not use the cleaning session as a launching point for upgrades and general repairs. It's not improper for a chimney cleaner to point out potential hazards during an inspection, but homeowners should be able to hire other contractors for those repairs.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon132149 — On Dec 05, 2010

Why wouldn't a homeowner want the chimney sweep to fix a problem they discovered. If a loose brick is pointed out, wouldn't you want him to go ahead and repair it while he is out? Hiring another contractor or a mason would be much more expensive, I would think.

By anon115086 — On Sep 30, 2010

About chimney sweeps having state-of-the-art inspection equipment and cleaning tools: I suspect very few people know what that means which makes this statement useless.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.