Chimney Sweep- Everything You Need To Know

chimney cleaningChimney sweeps often work with very narrow flues. A standard chimney trough was little, 9in by 9in. These spaces were difficult to navigate, especially for the young chimney sweeps.

Today, a chimney sweep is a highly respected professional who provides services to keep homes and families safe. Many chimney sweeps are certified by organizations that host searchable databases. See for more.

Unlike the chimney sweeps of the past, today’s professionals are educated in the fireplace and venting system and trained to identify hazards, clean chimneys, make repairs and perform installations. They use cameras, improved equipment, and specialized tools and chemicals to remove the highly flammable creosote that builds up each time wood burns.

Chimney sweeps also have professional liability insurance that covers their actions on the job, should they be injured. It is important because a chimney that has yet to be professionally inspected and cleaned can present safety risks to your home and family.

If you are considering hiring a chimney sweeper, ask for their professional certifications and insurance. If they are unwilling to show you these documents, it’s best to find a reputable company that will treat you and your home with respect. Moving items close to the fireplace and chimney before the sweep arrives will improve accessibility and safety during cleaning.

Before hiring a chimney sweep:

  1. Discuss their services and schedule a cleaning date and time.
  2. Ensure the company is insured and committed to work within a set time frame, calling ahead should they be running late.
  3. Look for a company identification badge or uniform and a vehicle identifying the company.

Depending on how often you use your fireplace, it is recommended that you have the chimney cleaned at least once a year to reduce fire hazards. The chimney lining can become damaged from a creosote buildup and soot, causing it to degrade over time and potentially lead to a chimney fire. A professional chimney sweeper will remove the buildup of debris from your flue lining and, if necessary, recommend a relining service.

An experienced chimney sweep can spot issues that you may not be able to detect by simply looking at the chimney. It is much cheaper to fix these problems when they are small than to wait until they turn into a major issue that can threaten the safety of your home and your family.


When hiring a chimney sweeper, ask about their safety procedures. Some of these measures include wearing masks, eye protection, and gloves. They should also be insured in the event of an accident or injury. Some companies will also request that you move any furnishings or carpets that are close to your fireplace or chimney to improve accessibility and safety during the cleaning process.

In the past, chimney sweeps were often children who worked long hours under poor conditions. They faced the risk of being crushed by falling debris and inhaling soot fumes. These working conditions led to several health problems, including respiratory illnesses and cancer. However, today’s chimney sweeps are highly trained professionals. They have a great respect for their job and are members of organizations that set high standards for safety.

Chimneys that are not regularly cleaned can harm people and pets. A dirty chimney can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, and it can also cause fires. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) states that chimneys and fireplaces should be inspected annually for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Chimney sweeps can help prevent these dangers by keeping vents clean and checking for any damage or obstructions that could affect a home’s safety.

A professional chimney sweeper will use various tools to clean a chimney and flue thoroughly. These tools include brushes, vacuums, and power brushes. They may also use a camera to monitor the condition of the duct and identify any problems that need to be addressed. In addition, many chimney sweeps use field service apps to manage their business and streamline processes.

Chimney sweeps can also help protect homes from fires by ensuring a fireplace or stove is properly installed and vented. A dirty chimney can lead to smoke leaking into the house and cause a flammable substance called creosote to build up in the flue. Creosote is a dark, tar-like substance that is made when wood burns. It is more common in unseasoned or soft wood and can cause a chimney fire when it ignites. A chimney sweep can clear creosote and other flammable materials that can cause fires to prevent them from spreading to the rest of a house.


Chimney sweeps are trained to clean your fireplace. They’ll remove creosote, soot, and blockages from the chimney walls, flue liner, and smoke chamber. They’ll also clean the firebox and damper, if applicable. They may also use chemicals that dissolve heavy creosote glaze deposits if the chimney is dirty.

Every fireplace generates creosote, which is a soot byproduct of burning wood. Having the chimney cleaned regularly prevents it from building up, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires. It’s a common myth that chimney sweeps climb inside the chimney to clean it. In truth, they either start at the roof’s chimney access or the fireplace itself and may also use a brush and vacuum cleaner to clean the entire structure.

In addition to cleaning, some chimney sweeps offer repair services. If necessary, they’ll install or replace your chimney cap and repair or replace your chimney liner. The cost of these repairs isn’t included in the fee for a chimney sweep. Before hiring them, you should discuss any repairs with your sweeper and get a written estimate.

Before the chimney sweep industry was regulated, children were often used to clean chimneys. In addition to the physical hardships, the job caused many serious health problems. One of the most severe was soot warts, which caused an intense itching that resembled a rash. It was made worse by the constant rubbing of the eyes to alleviate the irritation.

While the chimney sweep industry is necessary, some scam artists try to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. Beware of any company that uses terms like carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires to scare you into spending money on a new chimney liner system. In addition, ask about the warranty and guarantees offered by the chimney sweep before signing a contract. It will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future.


Chimney sweeps must pass a rigorous exam to prove they have the proper skills and knowledge to perform their job well. They will inspect your chimney and fireplace to ensure the flue is open and there are no cracks in the bricks, crumbling mortar, or excessive creosote buildup. A sweep will also look for signs of birds or other critters nesting in the chimney. Once they have completed the visual inspection, they will decide if your chimney needs to be swept. If it does, they usually do this there and then, using brushes, extension poles, and a vacuum to clean the chimney cavity and the flue.

Over time, all the smoke, gases, and particles from your fires will build up in your chimney system. This residue, known as creosote, is highly flammable and can cause chimney fires. If it builds up too much, it can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Chimney sweeps can identify and correct these problems before they become dangerous or even more serious.

According to the CSIA, your chimney, fireplace, and solid fuel-burning appliances should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year. It will help keep them in good working condition and prevent dangerous chimney fires. It is recommended to have a professional chimney sweep inspect your system at least once every other year.

A Level 1 chimney inspection is a strictly visual review of all the readily accessible parts of your fireplace and chimney interior and exterior. It includes your fireplace, firebox, damper, chimney cap, and the flue opening. It will also check for flammable deposits and any damage to the chimney liner and ensure no obstructions inside your flue.

A Level 2 chimney inspection is more thorough than a Level 1. It will include everything in a level 1 inspection and a video scan of the flue with a specialized internal evaluation camera. It will also examine the attic, crawl space, and basement if they are accessible. It is because a Level 2 chimney inspection requires no specialty tools that would require the removal of any doors, panels, or coverings. It will also look for animals that may have nested in the chimney or climbed the walls and look for water damage to the interior of your chimney.


Mary Stanley