How to Start a Chimney Cleaning Business in 8 Steps
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.
Use this checklist for starting up a chimney sweeping business:
- Get your chimney sweep certification and on-the-job experience
Choose a business name and logo
Register your business and get insurance
Set up your business accounting
Build a chimney sweep service list and price for profit
- Purchase chimney sweep equipment and tools
Attract more customers with chimney sweep marketing
Plan for growth
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.
How do you get a chimney sweep certification?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) offers a six-day workshop you can attend to get certified. You can also enroll in prep courses offered by certified instructors throughout the country.
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.
2. Choose a business name and logo
Pick a chimney sweep business name that’s both practical and professional. After all, your name will be on all your quotes, invoices, marketing materials, and van.
Start by brainstorming a list of chimney cleaning business names that are easy to say, spell, and remember. Then get feedback from friends, family, and even potential customers to choose the best name for your business.
Your name and logo will go hand-in-hand. Create a logo to place on your uniform that’s easily recognizable and memorable for customers. You can work with a designer, or try a DIY website like Looka.
Here’s an example of a logo created by Patriot Chimney and how it’s used to market their business.
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.
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:
- Reach out to family and friends to let them know you’re in business
- Build a professional website where potential clients can learn more about you and book services online
- Create a Facebook business page and join local Facebook groups where your potential clients spend time
- Set up your free Google Business Profile
- Pay for leads with Taskrabbit, Thumbtack, or similar lead generation websites that are popular in your region
- Go door-to-door, handing out flyers, door hangers, and postcards
Here are some examples of chimney cleaning door hangers and referral cards:
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.