Fall is here!  Its the season of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin Carving, and crisp cold evenings with the smell of  hot crackling fires lingering in the air.  This also means it is the prime season for hiring a chimney sweep, Seattle!  The homeowner-to-chimney-sweep relationship historically has been a lifelong relationship.  Chimney sweeps used to travel the city, door to door, sweeping and chimney cleaning Seattle and Bellevue homes. Entire neighborhoods would have the same chimney sweep and once the relationship established, it would continue to be a lifelong relationship.  If the chimney sweep retired, he would almost always pass the responsibility down to a son or family member, for the next generation of Seattle homeowners.

Nowadays, the tradition has changed. Most homeowners have never hired a chimney sweep before and neighborhood referrals are scarce. This leaves the task of hiring a chimney sweep in Seattle completely up to the best judgement of the homeowner.  This can be a bit of a scary task for most homeowners.   Especially since the chimney sweep trade has more scams and fraud than any other home service business.

We have compiled a list of 5 Tips for Choosing a Chimney Sweep in Seattle and Bellevue:

1. Is your Chimney Sweep Properly Licensed, Bonded, and Insured?

We realize this is a bit of a no brainer, but did you know that neither Washington State, County, or City laws require that chimney sweep contractors be licensed, bonded or insured.  That’s right, a $30 city business license means you are a licensed chimney sweep and inspector.  A reputable company knows that you wouldn’t want any contractor working on their house without insurance!  Pristine Sweeps is Licensed, Bonded, and Insured.

2. Is your Chimney Sweep Certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)?

Certified chimney sweeps seem to be rare in the Northwest. Despite almost every home having a fireplace, thousands of house related fires, carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths occur each year from improperly inspected, cleaned or maintained chimneys.  The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a education and certification organization that is recognized worldwide (despite the name).  The CSIA was founded with one goal in mind: train and educate chimney service providers so that they may become chimney professionals by providing homeowners with a culmination of industry tested research and world wide historical chimney safety data.

Bottom Line:  If a chimney service professional is not certified, then he is advising you based on his own opinion, and not the industry accepted standard.

3.  Does your chimney sweep use subcontractors (1099) or do they have Workers Comp?

Most chimney sweep companies pay their employees via a 1099-subcontract filing (rather than a W4).   If your chimney sweep is paid this way, he is required to have his own business license, contractors license and bond.  If he doesn’t have this, and he gets hurt on your property, he has the ability to sue you for a workers compensation claim, that would otherwise be covered by the companies workers comp insurance.

4. Is your chimney sweep using the correct vacuum and equipment?

Chimney soot needs to be contained, not only for cleanliness purposes but for major health reasons.  Creosote was one of the first known Carcinogens Many chimney cleaning services use regular ol’ shop-vacs to clean your chimney. These vacuums use a low grade filter that allows many of the small hydrocarbon particles to escape into the living area.  Proper vacuums are not cheap.  We use a 3-Motor dual stage HEPA filtration system, that moves over 200 cubic feet of air per minute.  That means we could cycle and clean all the air in your living room in 4 minutes.

5. Is your chimney sweep looking to continue a long term relationship?

At Pristine Sweeps we strive to continue the age old tradition of having life long relationships with our customers.  Our customers signing up for annual or semi-annual services will be given preferred customer status allowing cheaper sweep rates and access to emergency service visits.  We always try to book next years appointment a year and advance and our reminder service will make sure you are available and prepared that day, and we always will send out the same technician you had the year before if we can.

If you have any other questions or would like to book an appointment for a chimney sweep in Seattle or Bellevue please visit our website at www.chimney-sweep-seattle.com.

By: Aaron Woodward