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If you have a working fireplace, regular chimney cleanings are not optional. Wood burning fires leave ash and carbon residue behind that can cause a fire if they’re not removed.
If your fireplace is used often in the winter (three or four times per week), you should hire a chimney sweep once every year. If you use it less frequently (say one or two times per week), a cleaning once every two or three years will suffice.
About Chimney Sweeps
A chimney sweep is the term for a professional who specializes in clearing ash and soot from chimneys. Historically, young boys were hired to climb chimneys and clean them by hand, but that dangerous practice no longer exists.
A modern chimney sweep uses standard cleaning brushes, along with more sophisticated tools such as vacuums and cameras, to clean the entire fireplace and chimney, removing hazardous buildup of soot and carbon residue (creosote).
In addition to fireplaces, chimney sweeps also clean and maintain venting systems for all sorts of modern heating units, including those that run on coal, oil, natural gas, wood and pellets.
Cost of Chimney Sweeping
The average chimney sweep costs about $150, Angie’s List owner Angie Hicks told news station WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio. A video inspection and sweep will be slightly more expensive - usually about $200.
For those brave enough to climb to the roof and tackle the project, a chimney brush and rods run about $70. However, chimney sweeping is not advisable as a do-it-yourself project unless you have experience. It can be dangerous and ineffective.
Choosing a Chimney Sweep
Hicks also warned consumers to be aware of chimney sweep scams. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some tip and tricks for choosing a reputable chimney sweep.
- Check credentials - Make sure the chimney sweep is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and find out if your state requires chimney sweeps to be licensed. Also, check the company’s record with consumer organizations like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau.
- Get multiple quotes - Don’t settle for the first chimney sweep who bids for the job. Get quotes from multiple chimney sweeps to compare prices and make sure you’re getting the best deal.
- Ask for a proof with big repairs - If the person you hire claims the chimney needs expensive repairs, insist on seeing a photo of the damage. Make sure the picture is actually of your home. If you’re still suspicious, get a second opinion.
Author: Ashley Smith