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How to Start a Chimney Cleaning Business in 8 Steps

November 3, 2023 7 min. read
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Now is the best time to start a chimney cleaning business. Competition is low compared to other service industries. And chimneys need to be cleaned at least once per year, so there’s guaranteed recurring demand from homeowners.

Combined with low chimney sweep startup costs ($7,500 in some cases) and the chance to make healthy profits (12.5–20% profit margins), you have a market that’s ripe for the picking.

To help you build your new chimney sweep business from the ground up, we’ve compiled a checklist with every step you need.

1. Get your chimney sweep certification and on-the-job experience

By law, you don’t need a chimney cleaning license to start a chimney sweep business. However, getting certified improves your knowledge of the job and helps you attract higher-paying clients. It’s a stamp of credibility that tells homeowners you put their safety first and do a reliable job.

Besides getting certified, you should also gain experience in the field as a technician. On-the-job experience will help you find out if this industry is a good fit, while teaching you how to avoid mistakes that could cost your business and customers and money.

a simple logo for starting a chimney service business
how to start a chimney sweep business - Patriot Chimney branding

3. Register your business and get insurance

To legally start a chimney sweep business, you’ll need to register your business and get the right insurance in place. Here’s how:

  • Choose your business structure. For small chimney sweep businesses you can operate under a limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, corporation, or partnership. An LLC protects your personal assets just in case you’re being sued for damages.
  • Register your business with local and state governments and get the required permits and licenses. Business licensing requirements vary by state and city, so contact the local municipality or the Small Business Administration for guidance.
  • Get general liability insurance that protects you if you accidentally damage someone’s property, and worker’s compensation for your employees.

Getting small business insurance can be tricky, but you need that peace of mind. Shop around and get quotes from several insurance companies if you want, but whatever you do, don’t skip this step.

4. Set up your business accounting

Open a business bank account and get a business credit card to keep your chimney sweeping business income and expenses separate from your personal finances. This will make everything easier during tax season.

Then use small business accounting software like QuickBooks Online to track expenses, run payroll, and keep your business’s finances organized.

5. Build a chimney sweep service list and price for profit

Create a list of the chimney sweep services you plan on offering your clients. This list could include:

  • Chimney sweeping
  • Chimney cleaning
  • Chimney inspections
  • Chimney repairs and restorations
  • Chimney cap installation
  • Fireplace repair and installations
  • Waterproofing and leak repair
  • Stainless steel relining
  • Masonry repairs
  • Animal removal

You don’t have to offer all the services listed above to run a profitable chimney cleaning business. Instead, focus on the services that are in high demand, you’re good at, and you want to do.

Once you have your service list ready, price your chimney sweep services for profit—making sure to consider your labor costs, material costs, overhead costs, and ideal profit margin. 

READ MORE: Pricing strategies for service businesses: everything you need to know

6. Purchase chimney sweep equipment and tools

The exact equipment you need depends on what services you plan to offer. That said, here’s a list of chimney sweep equipment and tools you’ll probably need at some stage in your business:

Chimney Sweep Supplies and Materials

  • Rotary cleaning rods
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Ladders and step stool
  • Angle grinder
  • Grout bag
  • Fireplace cleaning tools
  • Cleaning and wire brushes
  • Drill and impact driver set
  • Power tool batteries
  • Hang light
  • Assorted tools (plyers, crowbar, chisel, hammer)
  • Extension cord
  • Measuring tape
  • PPE (harnesses, masks, leather gloves)

Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy all this equipment at once. You can wait until you’ve booked a job that requires a specific tool before you decide to buy.

You also don’t have to invest in top-of-the-line equipment, which places financial burden on your chimney sweep business. Use quality second-hand equipment and finance it instead of buying it outright.

Invest in chimney sweep business software

Besides the essential supplies and materials, you also need business management software to save time, look more professional, and run a more efficient and profitable chimney sweep business.

Here’s how you can use Jobber as your chimney sweep software to run your operations smoothly:

  • Create and send professional-looking quotes that include your chimney services and photos taken at the site assessment. 
  • Schedule chimney sweep jobs with just a couple clicks and create the fastest, most fuel-efficient routes.
  • Quickly access chimney sweep job details and photos on-site to complete the job exactly as planned.
  • Keep clients informed before, during, and after the job with appointment reminder emails, on-my-way text messages, and automated follow-ups.
  • Instantly generate accurate invoices and get paid 4x faster.

Jobber’s business dashboard shows you what’s on the docket for the day, as well as your open work requests, quotes, jobs, and invoices. All the information you need about your business is at your fingertips.

7. Attract more customers with chimney sweep marketing

There’s no shortage of ways to market yourself when starting out. To avoid getting overwhelmed, focus on marketing tactics that will help you get a few clients fast.

Here are some chimney sweep marketing basics that you can try:

Here are some examples of chimney cleaning door hangers and referral cards:

how to start a chimney sweep business - Patriot Chimney Door Hanger

After you have your first few customers, you can focus on long-term strategies like optimizing your website for search engines, collecting reviews, and setting up a referral program.

Referrals are an excellent source of revenue for chimney service businesses. If you provide a good clean job and excellent customer service, customers will be happy to call you again—and send their friends.

8. Plan for growth

By now, you should be just about ready to start your chimney sweep business. But before you pull the trigger, start thinking about some bigger picture questions:

  • How big do I want my chimney sweep business to be?
  • What are my profit goals?
  • Would I ever want to bring in partners?
  • How will I keep my costs down?
  • How will I remain ahead of the competition?

By answering these questions early, you’ll have a clearer picture of your goals, vision, and how to achieve them.

Originally published in September 2022. Last updated on November 3rd, 2023.

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