Because chimney sweeps play such an important part of your safety, and since the nature of their work requires that they come into your home, it's important that you choose a chimney sweep that you trust completely. It is important to know how to choose a sweep, because there are big differences within the industry, and you often can't tell because everybodies ads can look the same.
The government does not regulate chimney sweeps and in most states, including Texas, chimney sweeps are not licensed. Further, opening a chimney service business requires a relatively small capital investment. So, virtually anyone -- without education, training, experience or even a working knowledge of proper tools or equipment can become a chimney sweep.
Consequently, there are many poorly equipped, unprepared people offering their "services" as chimney sweeps. There are some who have studied and worked to become capable sweeps. Still others offer incompetent service and leave their customers with a false sense of well-being.
So, whether or not you choose to work with us, the least we can do is help you to know what to look for so that you can make the best decision for your situation. So, how can you tell a superior sweep from an inferior one? Here is a checklist of 10 things to look for in a chimney sweep:
1. Expertise in the field: You don't want to play guinea pig; your home and family are too important to trust to just anyone. Make sure that your sweep has received professional training, that they have the equipment necessary for your job, and that they know how to use it properly.
2. Strong references: Check references and see if the sweep has a history of satisfied customers. Some may have a record of customer evaluations; others may offer to have you call references.
3. Membership in Professional Associations: Members of organizations and associations are afforded opportunities for ongoing training and are usually better informed about the profession than those sweeps that are not. Up-to-date certifications and licenses signify that the sweep has the knowledge and expertise to be effective. Because this is an unregulated industry, anyone who wants to can buy a brush and call themself a professional chimney sweep, so make sure they're legitimate.
4. Insurance: Find out if your sweep has full coverage insurance; it's rare that you'll need it, but a simple mistake, even from the most experienced sweep, may cause damage. So make sure they're insured, and find out what their policy covers.
5. Good character: Pay attention to how you feel with them. There's no guaranteed way to gauge character, but make sure that you're comfortable with the sweep, and do your best to determine whether or not the sweep is someone you want in your home.
6. Timeliness: A professional sweep is on time, every time. Everyone knows that schedule changes are sometimes unavoidable, but look for a sweep that notifies you if he or she ever needs to change an appointment time.
7. Professional Appearance: Sweeps should have the courtesy to wear clean clothes, and clean up after the service is complete. They should have clean uniforms, a clean vehicle, and clean equipment.
8. Open communication: The best sweeps will listen to your questions and concerns. They will provide services with the goal of winning your business for life, and they will understand that that kind of relationship requires that they take the time to answer your questions.
9. Have your best interest in mind: An excellent sweep will provide services that you need and that will help you, and not pressure you to buy things just so that they can get more money from you. A trustworthy sweep will tell you how to get the best deals and services.
10. Customer Retention: You want a sweep that has loyalty from his or her customers. A sweep should have longstanding customer relationships. Anyone can get fooled into buying a bad service, but few people would stay with a sweep after they've done an unsatisfactory job.