No two chimney sweep companies are the same. Different companies have different strengths and specialties, different rates, and have different qualifications. For someone inexperienced, this can make it difficult to find the right company to clean their chimneys.
There are different organizations in place that certify chimney sweep companies. These can help homeowners understand the qualification and the specialties of these companies. However, these certifications are only helpful if you know what they mean.
Know the Differences Between Each Certified Chimney Sweep
There are many different fireplace and chimney certifications, and each has different meanings. This means when a technician tells you they are certified or becoming a certified chimney sweep, it’s not something you should simply take at face value. Some certifications are more challenging to obtain than others, and some that may not even cover the type of work they’re doing in your home.
To help you understand each certification, we’ve created a short guide of some of the most popular certificates.
Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certification
A CSIA certification is one of the most trusted chimney sweep certifications. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), which is a non-profit organization, provides these certifications. It serves as a resource for both homeowners, chimney sweeps and also educates chimney related professionals.
The process to become a CSIA certified chimney sweep is more extensive than many other certifications. A technician has to go through a review by the CSIA, which can be in person or online. They then have to pass a two-part exam, which tests fireplace, chimney, and venting system knowledge. Finally, the technician is required to sign the CSIA code of ethics. A CSIA certification doesn’t last forever but has to be renewed every three years.
National Fireplace Institute (NFI) Certification
Like the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the National Fireplace Institute is another non-profit organization. However, it focuses explicitly on hearth work and has three certifications.
- NFI Certified Wood Burning Specialist: Tests knowledge of gas fireplaces, stoves, and their venting systems.
- NFI Certified Gas Specialist: Tests knowledge of factory-built fireplaces, fireplace inserts, wood-burning stoves, and chimneys.
- NFI Certified Pellet Specialist: Tests knowledge of freestanding stoves and fireplace inserts along with their venting systems.
All these certifications require passing a test, and if an NFI certified chimney sweep obtains all three he is considered a Master Hearth Professional (MHP). In many states, having an NFI certification is the minimum requirement for a technician to receive a specialty license. It’s usually a good sign if a chimney sweep is in the process of obtaining an NFI certification.
Certified Chimney Professional (CCP) Certifications
Unlike NFI or CSIA Certifications, CCP certifications are given out by an independent company. There are three variations of CCP certifications.
- Certified Chimney Professional Certification: This certification covers overall chimney, fireplace, and venting system knowledge. It consists of a one-part test which they conduct online.
- Chimney Reliner Certification: This certification only covers the chimney relining knowledge, and also consists of a one-part online test.
- Certified Master Chimney Technician: In order to receive this certification, a technician needs at least eight years of chimney sweep experience, and six years of working experience with another certificate.
This certification can be a good indicator of skill. However, it doesn’t specify what other certification what the technician should have had, so it’s important to ask a Certified Master Chimney Technician for their certificates or which certificate they are in the process of obtaining.
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