How Much is a Chimney Sweep?

You know the feeling. Something breaks down, and you fear imminent financial disaster when you find out the damage is vastly larger than your wallet and ego could possibly handle.

And it’s important, too. Chimneys are fiery, soot-filled infernos that shouldn’t just be forgotten for years before the task at hand demands your attention through rather unwelcome means. Chimneys should be taken care of, and sometimes that means hiring a chimney sweep.

Average Chimney Sweep Cost

Several groups from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to local businesses put the typical chimney sweep cost at about $150. Plenty of factors can influence this decision, of course; the job could be more difficult if the house has multiple stories, bends, a particularly heavy buildup of creosote (aka soot) or other issues, and the whole process might take about an hour.

The cost for just a chimney inspection costs about $75, though it’s likely you’ll be able to take care of this yourself. The CSIA as well as the National Fire Protection Association advise homeowners to inspect their chimney every year, regardless of whether it is used or not, to make sure animal nests have not made an appearance, at the very least. You’ll know it’s time for a cleaning if you have soot built up to 1/8 of an inch or more, about the thickness of two or three coins.

Colder climates that use the fireplace more frequently may have to clean the chimney more often as well, which can drive up chimney repair costs if done frequently, but remember that this is a safety issue as well as a fireplace performance issue.

They don't look like this anymore.

Credit: PD-US, anonymous photograph, via Wikimedia Commons

Avoiding Unfair Chimney Sweeping Costs

As with any home repair process, there are going to be people out there that will quote unrealistic prices for the cost of chimney sweep services, or who claim you need a brand new piece of equipment installed at an obscene price.

It pays to shop around, and try to find unbiased testimonials (the internet is wonderful in this regard, Yelp especially), and remember that the typical price of $150 means it shouldn’t cost much lower to get a good chimney sweeping. If you’re quoted a price of $20, something’s probably amiss. Always try to get a couple estimates before making a decision.

DIY Chimney Sweeping

There is, of course, the option of intrepidity, and cleaning your own chimney isn’t so difficult, if you have the (relatively cheap) equipment and are comfortable adventuring around the rooftop for an hour. It's easy to find chimney sweep brushes for sale, and if you’re making a multi-year investment in a home, it won’t be so bad saving $150 a year on this particular chimney repair cost.

Brushes should match the size and shape of the chimney, and metal brushes should never be used on metal chimney liners. Bendy rods are good for bendy chimneys, as you might expect. So if self-sufficiency is for you, check out these helpful instructions.

Alternatively, chimney-cleaning logs are a nice option, especially for the less-frequently used fireplaces that haven’t built up unmanageable levels of soot, as are the liquid drops and sprays that can be injected into a fireplace for cleaning purposes.

So, as always, be safe, be smart, and make sure to sing the chimney sweep song we all know is on your mind right now.