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Robbie Markey, owner of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Mr. Smokestack: Any chimney cleaning company should be certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). The group sets certain requirements and a code of ethics, he told WRAL-TV.

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At the Chimney Safety Institute of America, we frequently talk about how important it is to understand how your chimney works, from the firebox to the rain cap. We talk about what you should and should not burn in your fireplace, as well as the importance of correctly handling fireplace ashes.

But that real understanding begins when you schedule your annual chimney inspection (or your mid-burning season inspection) with one of over 1,500 CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps that are located from coast to coast.

That inspection will give you insight into any performance issues or defects, so you can enjoy the cozy warmth of your fireplace or wood stove with confidence that you’ve lessened your risk of an unintended chimney fire.

When we say ‘chimney inspection’ we mean ‘chimney inspection by a CSIA certified professional‘ and you can locate them on our zip-code locator,

It’s not just ‘us’ saying that, either.

WRAL-TV in North Carolina reported Feb. 25 this article: ‘Know who you hire to be certain of a safe, clean chimney.’ The article focused on a homeowner that used a company with no clear connection to the National Chimney Sweep Guild nor CSIA. The worker arrived in an unmarked white van. During the service, the house filled up with thick, black smoke, and left dust on all the furniture and belongings.

The homeowner said her service was over in 30 minutes, yet still left a mess. Afterward, the homeowner “wondered if her chimney even got clean or whether she was still at risk for a house fire.”

That should never happen with a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. We always recommend that people take a few steps when considering which chimney sweep will perform an annual inspection or related service on their chimney or vent. As WRAL-TV reports, they do need regular maintenance!

Fortunately, when the media did a follow-up article, they focused on Mr. Smokestack, a company that is a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild and also employs CSIA certified professionals, including Robert Markey [see his profile on our website.]

[Mr. Smokestack is located on twitter at @mrsmokestacknc.]

MORE: FROM CSIA’s WEBSITE: How to hire a chimney sweep

Because proper care and attention to service can help protect people from unnecessary fires and carbon monoxide poisonings, it is important to choose the professional wisely. While the CSIA recommends that people consider a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, there are additional questions that should be asked to ensure that the person hired is a credible service technician.

  • How long has the chimney sweeping company been in business?
  • Does the company offer current references?
  • Does the company have unresolved complaints filed within the city or state consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau?
  • Does the company or individual carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents?
  • Does the company ensure that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will be on the job site

These are important questions! So when you schedule your inspection, take @WRAL’s advice and get it done right — by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep!