Would you go to the dentist if you were having back problems? Probably not. Would you go to the chiropractor for a root canal? Again…probably not. In both instances, the wrong specialist is being used to treat something that he or she is probably not trained to treat. This same logic applies to selecting a chimney sweep as well. Sure you could hire anybody off the street to inspect and sweep your chimney; however would you be receiving the highest level of service possible? Once again…probably not! When you hire someone who is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), however, you can be confident that the company you’re hiring is thoroughly familiar with what needs to be done to keep your home safe from the threats of a neglected chimney.
Why a Certified Chimney Sweep is Better
CSIA certified sweeps are held to a higher standard in terms of both performance and professional decorum than those who are not certified. They are expected to:
- Learn about and utilize the chimney and venting safety practices and techniques recommended by the CSIA.
- Comply with applicable building codes, manufacturer’s installation instructions, and recognized venting and chimney practices.
- Educate consumers about chimney and venting safety procedures.
- Strive to keep skills, knowledge, and technique—with regard to current safety practices for the chimney and venting of the fireplace—updated.
- Deal honestly and fairly with customers and refrain from engaging in any deceptive or unfair practices.
- Behave in a respectful, decent, and professional manner when serving in the capacity as a chimney sweep.
In an effort to help homeowners with the decision-making process, the CSIA recommends taking a cautious approach with regard to selecting a chimney sweep. To ensure your job is done right the first time, you’ll more than likely want to ask some or all of the following questions of all prospective chimney sweeps (you may even come up with a few questions of your own):
- How long has your company been in business?
- Do you offer current references?
- Do you have any unresolved complaints filed with the city or state consumer protection agency or BBB?
- Do you carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect my home and furnishings against accidents?
- 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 will decrease the chances of you ending up with a living room full of soot when all is said and done.
What exactly is the CSIA?
he CSIA 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  trade book and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)  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.
The CSIA recommends that homeowners with fireplaces take care in choosing who will perform their annual chimney or vent inspection because professional service can mean the difference between a safe home and an unsafe home. Remember: not all chimney sweeps are created equally. With Northeastern Masonry & Chimney, you can be confident that you’re receiving the best in chimney care from experienced and educated technicians. When it comes to fireplace safety, real peace of mind comes from knowing that your system is in the hands of a CSIA certified chimney sweep. Give us a call today to schedule your next chimney service appointment.