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When choosing a chimney sweep to clean your fireplace, a few requirements may cross your mind; the CSIA certification status of the prospective chimney sweeps may not be one of them.  However, the CSIA recommends that people take a few steps when considering which chimney sweep to do the job.  In order to ensure your job is done right, you’ll more than likely want to ask the following questions of all prospective chimney sweeps:

Certified sweeps are trained to identify issues that a lay person may not see when looking up the chimney.

Certified sweeps are trained to identify issues that a lay person may not see when looking up the chimney.

  1. How long has your company been in business?
  2. Do you offer current references?
  3. Do you have any unresolved complaints filed with the city or state consumer protection agency or BBB?
  4. Do you carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect my home and furnishings against accidents?
  5. Do you ensure that a CSIA Certified chimney sweep will be on the job site?

Asking these questions will usually guarantee that your chimney is cleaned correctly and that you don’t end up with a living room full of soot when all is said and done.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America is one of the only nationally recognized certification institutes specifically for chimney sweeps and chimney inspectors.  They have classroom training and standardized testing requirements to receive the certification in the first place:

  • Complete a 1 week online review course covering chimney sweeping, inspection and documenting basics
  • Pass a timed 100 question exam based on the 2006 International Residential Codebook with a score of 80% or higher
  • Pass a timed 100 question exam based on the Successful Chimney Sweeping (2009) trade book and the National Fire Protection Association (2010) codebook with a score of 70% or higher

What’s more, the CSIA has certain requirements and a code of ethics by which their certified chimney sweeps must abide in order to remain certified.  Certified chimney sweeps must also recertify annually and participate in continuing education courses.

When selecting a chimney sweep, there are obviously many things a homeowner must consider.  Before you make that final decision, I implore you to heed these words: not all chimney sweeps are created equal.  Choosing a chimney sweep with CSIA certification is of the utmost importance because you don’t want to leave anything to chance.