If you’re looking to ‘clean up’ as an entrepreneur, consider starting your own chimney sweep business.
Starting your own chimney sweep business has benefits, ranging from taking pride in your entrepreneurial spirit to providing a needed service to your community at a fair price.
According to Indeed, chimney sweeps in America earn an estimated $17.15 per hour. Of course, owning your own business would result in greater profits for you as well as greater control of your schedule.
There are about 5,000 chimney sweep businesses in the United States, employing about 6,500 professional chimney sweeps.
An option for a side hustle that can grow to full-time work, owning your own chimney sweep business allows you to set your own schedule as you build a trusted service among homeowners in your community.
First Things First
You need more than a brush and a ladder to start your own chimney sweep business. There are several first steps you’ll need to make before you start providing chimney sweep services to your friends and neighbors. They include:
- Learn about the business
Before you decide to open a chimney sweep business of your own, you should learn more about the business. It might be smart to work for a chimney sweep business as a technician or crew member for a while to learn more about the job before opening your own business.
- Choose a name and logo
Picking a name and logo that will be easily recognized and remembered will help you gain customers. The name may include your real name, the qualities of the service you provide, or something memorable to homeowners.
- Forming a legal entity
Protect yourself from personal liability for business debts by establishing a Limited Liability Company, or LLC.
- Open a business bank account
Don’t let personal funds and business money mingle. Keeping your business finances separate is smart. Your local banker can advise you on the best accounts to open.
- Set up business operations
Opting for a service such as WorkWave that can provide chimney sweep business procedures in scheduling, dispatching, billing, invoicing, and more. WorkWave is available on a computer desktop or as a smartphone app, making it a convenient way to run your business on the go.
- Get permits and licenses
These will vary by city and state, but not having the proper permits for your area can shut your business down before it gets started. The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers chimney sweep training and certification and offers a locator service for homeowners, which would help put your chimney sweep business on the map.
- Get insurance
Having liability insurance can protect your business if one of your employees got injured on the job. Since being a chimney sweep carries some inherent risks, such as falls or respiratory problems, insurance is especially important. Talk to your local insurance agent for more information.
- Purchase tools
Having the right tools will make your work easier and of better quality. Although having chimney sweep software, such as WorkWave, will inevitably let your business run more smoothly, we still require a few other working tools: wire and polypropylene brushes, a smoke chamber brush, chemical cleaners, and air-purifying respirators to protect you and employees from carcinogens.
- Don’t forget the advertising
You can do advertisement through word-of-mouth recommendations, direct mail, and advertising in home-related magazines, radio, television, or online. Participating in home shows is also a great idea.
- Stay connected
Once you have served a customer, make sure you have their contact information so you can remind them in a year that it’s time for their annual chimney inspection.
What Does A Chimney Sweep Do?
A chimney sweep keeps horrific house fires from happening. The goal of all the steps a chimney sweep takes in inspecting and cleaning chimneys and flues is to prevent dangers from happening, which may cause life and property damage.
When a homeowner hires a chimney sweep to clean chimneys, smoke ducts, fireplaces, and flues, they’re taking a big step toward preventing a fire. This maintenance work by chimney sweeps prevents soot fires and gas emissions.
A chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America will be able to advise homeowners on fire prevention and the correct and safe burning techniques so their fireplace doesn’t put them at risk of a house fire. Chimney sweeps also install caps on chimneys to keep rain, birds, and animals from entering the home.
To gain CSIA certification, you can order books, register for online or in-person reviews, and take the examination online.
Another option is signing up for the six-day CSIA National Training Academy. Topics covered in the intense boot camp for chimney sweeps include sweeping and inspection of chimneys, equipment operation, health and safety protection, preparation for the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep exam, and the codes, clearances, standards, and practices of the trade.
What Are The Dangers In A Chimney Sweep Business?
Being a chimney sweep does carry with it some dangers to a technician. Working from rooftops comes with the job description, so falls are a hazard of the occupation.
Chimney sweeps clean away creosote from chimneys, fireplaces, and flues, so this can put them at risk for cancer and respiratory problems if they do not take steps to protect themselves.
Another danger that can face beginning chimney sweeps is financial. Reducing financial risk is important to any new business. Having the right software structure to help your business run smoothly while you’re working is important to the health of your new business’s bottom line.
Benefits Of Starting A Chimney Sweep Business
Residential chimney sweep service should usually take about an hour. According to HomeAdvisor, a basic chimney cleaning by a chimney sweep will cost between $128 and $375, depending on the amount of cleaning required.
Of course, the cost of tools, transportation and fuel, cleaning products, and the salaries of a technician you may hire will have to be taken into account, but that should still leave you with a tidy profit.
Starting a chimney sweep business will also give you control over your own schedule. Having the best software to automate your chimney sweep will help you in scheduling your appointments and dispatching a technician to a job.
How Chimney Sweep Service Helps Homeowners
Homeowners could always try cleaning their own chimneys, but that could be hazardous. The tools needed, coupled with the skills and experience required, would make chimney cleaning a foolish do-it-yourself project. Chimney sweep service is best provided by a trained professional.
Your expertise will keep homeowners from having to tackle the difficult job themselves. Not only that, but a skilled and knowledgeable chimney sweep will be able to detect structural problems that need repair.
A chimney and fireplace inspection includes checking liners, the smoke chamber, the firebox, and the exterior of the chimney. Some chimney sweep businesses offer video inspection, which is more thorough.
Burning wood, such as throwing a log on a crackling fire in your fireplace, creates a creosote. Creosote, a known carcinogen, builds up in the chimney’s interior and eventually becomes flammable. Ignoring a dirty chimney can result in a house fire.
According to Job Monkey, each year, more than 25,000 chimneys catch fire in the U.S., resulting in house fires that caused more than $100 million in damage.
For those who have a fireplace and chimney as a major source of home heating or those who enjoy a cozy fire more than 30 times a year, an annual chimney inspection and cleaning is recommended. An annual inspection and cleaning will keep creosoting away and will ensure that the fireplace and chimney are safe for further use.
Most people will add chimney sweeping as an annual expense as it is far less expensive than a house fire.
As a chimney sweep, your quality work keeps a fire from claiming lives and property in your community. That’s something that you can take pride in.
Tools of the Trade
Starting with the right tools for a chimney sweep business will add quality to your service while making your jobs easier. Here are some of the tools you’ll need.
Transportation: You will need reliable transportation to reach the homes and businesses you serve. As your business grows, consider adding a magnetic sign or wrap to advertise your service to other drivers.
The sturdy wire brushes chimney sweeps use come in shapes from round to rectangular and in various lengths. You can purchase them separately or in kits.
- Vacuum Systems
Being able to vacuum ash and soot is important in clean-up after a chimney sweep. Make sure to include a vacuum designed to deal with ash.
Having a camera system to see where you can’t physically go is vital to providing a thorough inspection of chimneys and flues.
- Protective equipment
Carabiners and lifeline ropes to prevent falls, respirators, gloves, helmets, and earplugs are important safety equipment that you should include when making purchases for your chimney sweep business.
- Drop cloths
Chimney sweeping is known as one of the dirtiest jobs around, so a chimney sweep shouldn’t leave a mess inside a home or business. Make sure to use drop cloths to protect interiors from soot.
Chimney Sweep Software
If you are starting a chimney sweep business, the first thing to learn is that your time is valuable. The time you spent in the office struggling with billing and invoices could’ve been the time for you to focus on your business and earn money.
Starting a chimney sweep business with the right software to help automate practices and procedures will make your operations smooth and more efficient.
Chimney sweep business software from WorkWave helps your business run more efficiently by creating a system for scheduling, dispatching, invoices, billing, reports, and more.
WorkWave helps mobile workforce companies save money and time while improving customer service. Their fully integrated suite of cloud-based software, mobile software, and marketing services allows all sizes of businesses to estimate jobs, schedule and dispatch a technician to job sites, and bill customers easily.
Whether it’s only you or a crew, WorkWave software can help you schedule jobs accurately, so you arrive on time and have the time you need to perform quality inspections and thorough cleaning. Software for scheduling will save you money on fuel by finding the most efficient routes for you or your crews.
Information should be in the hands of schedulers but also available in real-time to your crew members. Giving a technician on-the-road access to customers’ information needed will reduce calls back to the office.
As a chimney sweep business owner, this also helps you keep track of business activity throughout the day, week, and month.
Chimney sweep business software by WorkWave can keep your cash flow healthy by automating billing cycles, allowing you to send batch invoices, and even letting your technician process credit or debit card payments on the job site.
Workwave chimney sweep business software is also available as an app for smartphone use, which will make running your business possible from the field and in the office. It will also put important information in the hands of your technicians quickly and conveniently.
A Clean Sweep
By starting your own chimney sweep business, you’ll be learning a trade that will support you and your family and will protect your community from the risk of house fires. Learning how to start a chimney sweep business is the first step toward providing this service while providing for yourself and your family.
Your chimney sweep business can also be a creator of jobs in your community. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses created more than 1.8 million American jobs. You can join the ranks of entrepreneurs and job creators by starting your own chimney sweep business.
We hope that this information will help you start your own chimney sweep business that will serve your customers and your community well.