What Can You Expect During a Chimney Sweep & Inspection?

For many homeowners, a chimney sweep and inspection is a new experience, which means there are a lot of questions around what to expect. We’re here to help by giving you a rundown of what a typical sweeping and inspection includes, and what you need to do to prepare for the big day.

Let’s jump right in…

What’s included in a chimney sweep?

The purpose of a chimney sweep is to remove soot, creosote, blockages, and other dirt and debris from the chimney system, so that you can continue to safely use your fireplace, without worrying about corrosive buildup, flammable byproducts, or dangerous blockages.

So, what can you expect the process to include?

The sweep will clean soot, creosote buildup, and blockages from the:

  • fireplace/firebox
  • smoke shelf/smoke chamber
  • damper
  • flue
  • and chimney cap, if needed

Most chimney sweeps will perform an inspection on the same visit. Chimney inspections are vital because they allow a professional to check your entire system over and look for any potential issues or hidden flaws.

CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweeps perform Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 inspections. Each 33-point inspection is designed to thoroughly evaluate the entire chimney system, so that homeowners know what condition their system is in and what needs to be done (if anything) as far as repairs and preventive maintenance goes.

To learn more about what’s included in an inspection and the different types of inspections that sweeps perform, check out What Is a Chimney Inspection & Why Do You Need One Every Year.

How does a chimney sweep clean a chimney?

How does a chimney sweep clean a chimney? Do they go on the roof?

Well, a chimney sweep may clean the chimney from the fireplace opening or from the roof – or they may spend time at both the fireplace and the top of the chimney. It is not always vital that the sweep go to the roof during a cleaning, so if they stay on the ground, don’t assume they haven’t done their job.

What do they do?

During a cleaning, the sweep will use specialized rods and brushes to remove blockages, soot, and buildup from within the fireplace, chimney liner, chimney cap, and throat of the chimney. This includes the smoke chamber, the smoke shelf, the damper, and the firebox.

If glazed creosote is present in the chimney, the sweep may need to apply a chemical treatment to change the nature of the creosote into something that can be more easily removed.

Once all the debris is loosened, the sweep will use a HEPA vacuum to suck up any soot, creosote, or other debris – leaving you with a clean chimney and fireplace.

Is getting your chimney swept messy?

When you grow up seeing Dick Van Dyke tap dance little soot patterns all over London, it’s only natural to assume that chimney sweeping is messy. The truth is, it is a messy job – but if the sweep doing the work has the right tools and training and takes the right precautions, it shouldn’t be messy for you, the homeowner.

The best chimney sweeps will wear booties over their shoes, lay tarps down to protect your floor and furniture, and capture soot and creosote using HEPA vacuums, so that your home stays immaculate throughout the chimney sweeping process.

How do you know if the chimney sweep you’ve hired will make a mess? Take a look at the company’s website and reviews and ask when you schedule the appointment what steps they take to keep your home clean.

CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweeps® are trained to put homeowner safety first, and one way they do that is by keeping soot and creosote safely contained, not spread out all over the home. So, when you see the CSIA badge, you shouldn’t have to worry about a mess.

How long does a chimney sweep & inspection take?

Wondering how long it’ll take a chimney sweep to clean your chimney? Well, while it does vary, you should plan to set aside an hour or two for the chimney sweeping and inspection.

The tech may wrap up sooner if your chimney is well maintained and there’s not much to do, while it may take a bit longer if they have to remove glazed creosote or investigate a chimney leak or something like that.

What do you need to do to prepare for a chimney sweep?

Getting ready for the big day? There are a few things you can do to prepare for a chimney sweep and inspection:

  • Remove valuables from the mantel, hearth, and the area close to the fireplace or stove.
  • Clean out ashes and don’t use your appliance the day before or the day of your appointment.
  • Move furniture and any other belongings within six or so of the fireplace opening.
  • Have a plan to keep pets and small children away from the area during the sweeping.

That’s it!

Are you supposed to tip chimney sweeps?

Another question we hear a lot is ‘Are you supposed to tip chimney sweeps?’ Tipping is not expected when you hire a chimney sweep, so don’t feel like you have to. Your inspection and sweeping charge will cover the time of the techs and the work they’re doing.

Now, You’re Ready

We hope we answered all your questions about what to expect during a chimney sweeping and inspection. If you have any other questions we didn’t answer here, feel free to reach out to us at 317-837-5362 or at office@csia.org.

And remember, when you need a qualified chimney pro you can count on to keep your home clean and do the job right, use our helpful search tool to find a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® in your area.


We provide a lot of information about chimney and venting systems on our Homeowner Resources page, including what a chimney inspection is.