Poorly maintained chimneys and fireplaces can cause all sorts of problems. Seemingly minor ash and debris in the fireplace can indicate the start of serious problems building up on chimney walls, such as toxic creosote and soot. Creosote is highly combustible and causes chimney fires. To stop this, specialist cleaning of chimneys and fireplaces is essential. So, here is a little advice on what to ask a chimney professional before hiring.
How Often Do Chimneys and Fireplaces Need Cleaning?
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges homeowners to get their chimneys cleaned at least once a year. Heavily used wood-burning fireplaces may need chimney sweeping done more often. A hint that you may be overdue for chimney sweeping is strong fireplace smells, debris falling into the fireplace, or smoke blowing back into the room.
Assess Your Needs Before Calling Chimney Professionals
So that you know what to ask before hiring a chimney sweep, you should do a basic visual check first. Check outside to see whether there appears to be any damage around the chimney cap and the immediate roofing surround. Also, see if there are any signs of animals appearing to live within the chimney or on the cap. Bird’s nests are a prime example.
Then check inside around the fireplace. Debris and heavy soot deposits falling from the chimney walls can be signs of animal life or structural damage. The tell-tale black tar signs of creosote are another sign that cleaning is due. You should discuss these issues with chimney cleaning companies when you seek quotes from them.
What to Look for When Hiring Chimney Cleaners
Two of the most important things to look for are good customer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. If the organization fails in this area, it can indicate poor service. Asking friends and family about local chimney professionals is a good start. Online review sites may also prove helpful.
Once you’ve lined up two or three potential cleaners, you can compare their experience, rates, and availability. A checklist can be a useful tool to assess their services.
Your Checklist of Questions on What to Ask Before Hiring a Chimney Sweep
1. Do you have experience with the type of fireplace and chimney I have?
Chimneys come in various shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to ensure the cleaner you hire has experience with your type of chimney.
2. How much will it cost to have my chimney and fireplace cleaned?
This is an essential what to ask before hiring a chimney sweep. You don’t want a nasty surprise when the bill is handed over. A good local company won’t hesitate to come to your property for a free quote.
3. My chimney is way overdue for a cleaning. Will it cost more to sweep?
Again, you don’t want any surprises here. If you’re upfront with them on how long it has been between sweeping and how heavily the fireplace is used, they may need to quote a little more. When they do their inspection, unanticipated problems may come to light. Ask them how they will deal with this type of scenario as well.
4. Do you have any discounts or promotions for first-time customers?
This is worth asking for. After all, they want your repeat business.
5. What if something goes wrong during the chimney cleaning process?
Check whether they are fully insured for any likely mishaps. Don’t just take their word for it—ask who their insurer is and get details of the process if any structural damage occurs.
6. Is your work guaranteed?
Check what their service guarantees cover, including how long they last.
7. Can you provide references from past clients?
If you’re the cautious type, it’s worth looking at a couple of their previous clients.
8. I work away from home. Can you provide a definite day and start time to do the work?
Is there anything more irritating than waiting around all day for tradespeople that don’t turn up? You will want to know that they are guaranteed to turn up when they say they will. And in case they do have to reschedule at short notice that they will let you know at least 24 hours beforehand.
Your Local Chimney Cleaning Professionals in Northern Virginia
Six Penny Chimney provides high-quality fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning services. We also repair damage to concrete and brickwork and remove animal and insect pests. If you’re a local Northern Virginian, we will readily visit your property and give a free estimate.
We will happily guide you around what to look for when hiring chimney cleaners.