What are some considerations when hiring a chimney sweep?
There are several factors you should consider when planning to hire a chimney sweep:
- How much experience does the chimney sweep have?
- What training and credentials does the person doing the work possess?
- Is the chimney sweep willing to provide you with references?
While being in business for a long time doesn’t necessarily equal competent service, chimney sweeps that aren’t getting referrals from happy customers usually go out of business sooner than rather than later. Make sure that you know who is going to be doing the work. Many sweeps employ assistants and their experience varies widely. Make sure that you know that the person working on your chimney is an experienced professional.
Again, while the sweep who owns the company may have all the right certifications and 30 years of experience, make sure that you verify the qualifications of the person who will actually be working at your home. There are several organizations that offer training and certifications for chimney sweeps. In addition, there are many very qualified sweeps that have never had any formal education, instead learning chimney sweeping through apprenticeship and on-the-job training. While certifications are often a sign that a sweep is serious about keeping up on the latest techniques, it doesn’t guarantee that the sweep will do a good job.
Like all service businesses, chimney sweeps rely on referrals and repeat customers to drive a large percentage of their business. If a chimney sweep is unwilling to provide recent references, this should be a big red flag. If a sweep overcharges, makes unnecessary messes, or recommends repairs that aren’t necessary, they aren’t going to foster a good reputation with both customers and other sweeps. By contacting two or three references, you should be able to get a fair sense of how satisfied others have been with the sweep’s work. Keep in mind, though, that some people may be reluctant to give you a candid response. Ask a question like, “next time you need your chimney swept, do you think you’ll hire them again?” If they have to think about it first, then you can often read between the lines that maybe there was an issue and they don’t feel comfortable discussing it with you.