How do you find a chimney sweep? With Google you say? Or a local directory? Perhaps Facebook? Or even a referral or word of mouth? Generally these are the most common ways, but how can you tell which one is best for you? Often times people will use one thing, simple price comparison. We all do it with purchases, vehicle insurane, clothes, books, anything.. it is easy. Are they not all the same!? Well sadly not and not only is it a poor way to deterime your choice but can be dangerous. Let’s think about this for a minute. You contact four sweeps – you have done some research. The first is $150, the second $180, the third is $200 and the fourth is $250. Wow! What a range. On the face of it, they look the same. All claim to be ‘chimney sweeps’ so everything is equal on that score. Is that where you’d stop? If so, would you therefore choose the cheapest? And you would be doing yourself a diservice. But before before we go any further, let’s consider a very important fact. Let’s stop and think about this. There is NO LEGAL requirement for a chimney sweep to be trained or certified or insured. That’s right – nothing in law whatsoever. Want to become a chimeny sweep and go to the hardware store and buy some rods and push brooms, consumer grade and you are a sweep. Wow!? Or maybe you can buy a vacuum and pretend to clean the flue by sticking the nozzle up the chimney for a few minutes. Sorry neither of these tools likely work well but that is another blog. Unfortunately, these ‘sweeps’ aren’t particularly easy to identify, anybody can have a great looking website. But lets dig deeper and see what you find. Let’s take the examples above and add some information you may like. The first is NOT a Certified Sweep – has ZERO training, education or knowledge. Only some simple push brooms. The second has a basic certification – a WETT SITE BASIC INSPECTOR – this is the begining level, entry certification that allows one to perform basic visual inspections but is FAR from the education and training a sweep would obtain. The third is in fact a Certified Chimney Sweep – as is the fourth. That is where you now compare. And in the end between the last two it may simply be price variance and nothing more. You can dig a little deeper and look at the WETT Certified Chimney Sweep versus WETT Certified Advanced Chimney Sweep if you like but now you are splitting hairs. So first and foremost ensure they are in FACT Certified Chimney Sweeps – NOT Basic Inspectors – NOT Technicians – BUT Chimney Sweeps. Second – do they hold insurance? Third – do they use “rotary power sweeping tools” or simple old style push brooms. Yes there IS a difference – a HUGE one. It is about PEACE of MIND. And hiring a properly trained and certified Chimney Sweep with proper equipment makes all the difference. Certified Chimney Sweeps are WETT trained and certified. They are fully insured. They are trained and able to provide professional advice and are able to troubleshoot any system problems. They have chimney cameras and are able to do proper inspections. They will ALWAYS issue a receipt for work done and if a WETT report is requested it will be provided and is multiple pages long (not one or two pages)!! (ours is typically 15 to 20 pages with photographs and notes) However those top end certified sweeps will often not be the lowest priced. So going back to the beginning which sweep would you choose now? You would be making a mistake to choose the 1st or 2nd sweeps. The third and forth are both CERTIFIED CHIMNEY SWEEPS.. ask more.. and then decide between those two. Hire a Professional Certified Sweep – and do it annually. When you think about it – the cost is far less than a coffee a day – and not much more than one per week (depending on where and what you buy). That’s really a small price to pay to ensure you, your home and your family stay as safe as possible – get PEACE of MIND.