Let’s face facts. Chimney Sweeping is still a largely unlicensed and unregulated industry. How do you know who to trust? How can you be sure the sweep you invite into your house knows what he’s doing, or isn’t going to rip you off? In short, how do you find a good chimney sweep?

Well, if you’re reading this on my website, congratulations! You found one. I’ve been doing this for about 18 years and I like to think I’m pretty darn good at what I do. But what if you’re not in my service area? What if you’re in another part of the state, or another part of the country? How do you find someone professional to inspect and sweep your chimney? The following tips are some great ways to find a good sweep. There are also things to look for when the sweep gets to your house that can tell you a lot about them. Not all of this advice will apply every time—I’m making some sweeping generalizations here—but I think you’ll find it helpful.

Part one of this blog will focus on how to find a good sweep.

Check out your state Chimney Sweeping Guild. Pretty much every state with any kind of Chimney Sweep population will have a trade guild. These guilds generally attract the best sweeps in the state to promote chimney safety, continue their trade education, and network with other professional sweeps. It is likely that any member of a state Chimney Sweeping Guild takes his job very seriously and is committed to his trade. A quick Google search will lead you to your local guild website.

Look for online reviews. Peer-driven consumer review sites, like Angie’s List or Yelp can be a great source of information before hiring a sweep. Look for consistency. One bad review shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you—no contractor can please every single customer every time—but a series of negative reviews should be a warning sign. Conversely, a history of positive reviews usually means you’re on to a winner. If you’re hiring a chimney sweep company with multiple employees, make sure to check those reviews to see if some workers seem to get better reviews than others.

Who’s in your neighborhood? You’re driving around all day. You pass contracting trucks all the time. Do you see a chimney sweep truck or van consistently? When you see it, do you think “gee, I see that guy everywhere”. That’s a pretty good sign. That means that Sweep is busy and working hard, which means he’s probably doing great service which is generating more business from referrals. I hear new customers telling me that they “see my trucks everywhere!”—the thing is, I only have one truck! They’re just seeing it so often they think it’s a different vehicle.

Ask your friends and neighbors. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats a personal word-of-mouth referral. Ask people you trust to refer you to people they trust. Walk next door and ask your neighbor who they use to take care of their chimney. Call your co-worker and ask them who they use, too. Your dentist, your real-estate broker, your dog-walker—anyone you trust can be the ultimate source for finding a good Sweep in your area. And don’t forget to ask them why they like that company. Was it the service? The price? The follow-up? What about that company made them great?

That’s how to find a great Chimney Sweep. Check back next time to find out what to look for when the Sweep arrives to make sure he’s a professional who will treat you right.

Best of Sweep’s Luck to you,