How do you find a chimney sweep? Google? Local directory? Word of mouth?
Those are the most common ways these days, but how can you tell which one is best for you?
One method is quite common – price comparison.
We all do it – books, electrical items, clothes, vehicle insurance. The internet makes it very simple.
Some extend this tactic to bespoke home services such as chimney sweeping. But that’s actually a false comparison.
Picture the scene:
You decide to contact two sweeps you’ve found from your research. Sweep A is £30. Sweep B is £60.
On the face of it, they look the same. Both are ‘chimney sweeps’ so everything is equal on that score.
Is that where you’d stop? If so, would you therefore choose the cheapest?
Actually, before we go any further, let’s consider a very important fact.
Something that will really make you stop and think whether price comparison in this scenario is such a good idea.
And it’s this…
There is no legal requirement in the UK for chimney sweeps to be trained, registered or accredited.
That’s right – nothing in law whatsoever.
Want to become a chimney sweep with minimal effort? All you need to do is go to a DIY store, pay a few pounds for some rods and a brush and, hey presto, you can call yourself a sweep.
Or if you’re completely deluded, just buy a vacuum and pretend to clean the flue by sticking nozzle up the chimney for 15 mins (this is NEVER acceptable – you cannot clean a flue by vacuum alone).
Unfortunately, these ‘sweeps’ aren’t particularly easy to identify. After all, anyone can produce a bells and whistles website which looks the part.
But dig deeper and you find they usually:
⁃ Are not registered with a professional trade association or Competent Persons Scheme
⁃ Do not have any insurance
⁃ May not have an adequate range of equipment for the job
– May only offer a basic sweeping and maintenance service
⁃ Can’t usually give you bespoke, professional and accurate advice on any issues you may have
⁃ Don’t issue any paperwork or Certificates of Sweeping
⁃ Sometimes charge among the least amount of money for a sweep
However, there are very many sweeps such as myself who choose to be professional, registered chimney sweeps.
Yes, despite it being a completely unregulated industry where, as shown above, you can ply your trade quite easily, some of us voluntarily sign up to Codes of Practices.
You can usually spot us because we:
⁃ Have had formal training and in some cases advanced training
⁃ Are registered with one of the main UK sweeping associations (these include Guild, NACS and APICS among others) or Competent Persons Schemes (HETAS, OFTEC etc)
⁃ Are fully insured
⁃ Can offer bespoke, professional advice and are able to troubleshoot any issues you have
– Are able to undertake more advanced investigation work such as CCTV inspections
⁃ Always issue paperwork such as a Certificate of Sweeping upon completion of a job
⁃ May often charge more than unregistered sweeps
For my own part, I even go beyond this by ensuring my customer service is fast, responsive and is convenient as possible. My customers can book online, get written confirmation/reminders of appointments and can pay by card. Traditional values, modern methods.
So, to go back to our Sweep A and Sweep B; which one would you choose now? Would you still blindly price compare or would you ask further questions?
Because as you can now see, a price comparison, without taking into account the above, is misleading. You’re not getting a like-for-like service. They are each distinctly different.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some great, unregistered sweeps out there, regardless of what they charge or the extent of services they provide. But they tend to have been going a long time and can demonstrate this.
Of course, with everything in life, it’s always a case of caveat emptor – buyer beware – but the general advice is to go with a professional, registered sweep, not someone who is just the cheapest.
Broadly speaking, the cost of a professional sweep in the UK (outside London) won’t set you back more than the equivalent of a cup of coffee a week.
That’s really a small price to pay to ensure you, your home and your family stay as safe as possible…
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.