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How to Choose a Chimney Sweep

What a Homeowner Should Know
The chimney service trade is not regulated, nor are chimney sweeps licensed in the state of Minnesota.  Further, opening a chimney service business requires a relatively small capital investment.  Thus, virtually anyone - without education, training , experience or even a working knowledge of proper tools or equipment can become a chimney sweep.  As a result, many ill-equipped, ill-prepared individuals are free to offer their "services" to homeowners.  In some cases, these individuals will take advantage of learning opportunities and become competent, qualified sweeps.  In other cases, they will continue along the same path they started on, offering incompetent service and, in some cases providing trusting homeowners with a false sense of well-being.  For this very reason, a number of states are currently considering license requirements for chimney sweeps. As precursors to state licensing, some municipalities currently license chimney sweeps and in most of those, the criteria for licensing is the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeptm credential.

The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeptm Program
The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Program is acknowledged by a growing number of industry organizations, insurance underwriters, local, state and federal agencies and courts as the measure of a chimney sweep's knowledge about the evaluation and maintenance of chimney and venting systems.
CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps keep abreast of the current developments and the technology of their trade.  They are knowledgeable about the most recent National Fire Protection Association standards as well as the specifics of state and local codes covering their geographic area.  In order to ensure a verifiable level of expertise within the trade, the Chimney Safety Institute of America administers the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Program.  It is an educational and testing program designed to assess a chimney sweep's knowledge of:
  1. Technical issues related to chimney construction and dynamics
  2. Solid fuel appliances and EPA requirements
  3. The physics of woodburning and creosote formation
  4. Codes, clearances and standards
  5. The practices and techniques of the trade
Throughout most of the 50 states, the homeowner's best gauge of a chimney serviceperson's knowledge is the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential.  C.S.I.A. Certified Sweeps are tested every three years, and display a dated, photo-ID badge.
If you are planning to hire a chimney sweep to inspect, evaluate or clean your chimney system, here is a checklist of the things you should know about the person or company you are about to hire :
  • How long has the company been in business
  • Does the company offer current references? (Don't hesitate to check them.)
  • Does the company have unresolved complaints filed with your city or state consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau
  • Does the company or individual carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents
  • Is the company a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (provides access to ongoing education)
  • Is he or she a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep?
The C.S.I.A. Certified Chimney Sweeptm credential is the hallmark of excellence among chimney service professionals and among homeowners and related industry professionals who understand the quality and value it represents.  Homeowners should be aware that there is only one legitimate national certification program for the chimney service industry and that is the CSIA program.  Those who have earned the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential have demonstrated their commitment to their industry, to fire prevention, and to the clientele they serve.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a non profit, tax-exempt educational institution dedicated to chimney and venting system safety.  CSIA is committed to the elimination of residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney-related hazards that result in the loss of lives and property.  To achieve its goals, CSIA devotes its resources to educating the public, chimney service professionals and other fire prevention specialists about the prevention and correction of chimney and venting system hazards.