A chimney sweep business is a great one to set up. Your start up costs are minimal and there are millions of chimneys that all need sweeping every year.
Starting Your Chimney Sweep Business
What Do you Need?
A set of chimney rods and a brush to screw on to one will cost you very little. The rods are like drain rods. You will need enough to reach the top of any chimney, each one is 1 metre long, so most house chimneys will take 8-10 rods. If you are cleaning chimneys on taller buildings you will need more rods. The rods all screw together just like drain rods.
You will need a vacuum cleaner to remove the soot and a plywood screen with a 6 inch hole cut in the middle. The screen will help to reduce the amount of dust flying around the room.
Soot contains all kinds of cancer-causing chemicals, so a dust mask is essential
Ladders and a van complete your kit.
You dismantle the fire grate, stick your brush up the chimney and screw chimney rods on the end, while you keep pushing until you feel the brush moving freely because it is waving in the air.
Sometimes the chimney will be blocked with a bird’s nest. The easiest way to remove this is from the top of the chimney, using hooks to pull the bulk of the nesting materials out. You will need access ladders and roofing ladders as well as safety harnesses to work on the roof safely.
Some clients will ask you to use dust sheets. If you do a neat job then they are not necessary, but the client is always right, so invest in a few dozen large decorators’ heavy cotton dust sheets. These will not get dirty, so will not require washing very often.
If you have cleared out one birds’ nest then the customer will probably ask you to fit a chimney cowl to stop any future problems. If you always have a few in your van then you can fit these and earn good money for doing so.
Chimney inspections are another service that you can offer. Fibre optic lights and miniature cameras allow you to survey every inch of the chimney to check for cracks. Cracks could allow carbon monoxide to enter rooms and poison the inhabitants, so inspections are vital.
Seasonal Nature of Chimney Sweeping
Most people have their chimneys swept between late summer and early spring. For the remaining 6 months of the year your chimney sweep business can still earn money doing chimney inspections and fitting anti-bird chimney cowls.
Although anyone can stick a brush up a chimney you will need training in spotting chimney defects and to get insurance to cover you working on roofs.
The National Association of Chimney Sweeps offers training in the UK and the Chimney Safety Institute of America provide training for members. Join your local organisation and get certified.
If you do a good, clean job then people will ask you to come back. Nobody wants to take a chance on getting a new chimney sweep who might make a lot more mess. You could offer reduced rates for people whose chimneys you sweep every year. This makes part of your income more reliable. You could do these chimneys over the summer when business is quiet.
Your van is a major part of your marketing. It needs to be clean and to have your name and phone numbers on the side. A clean, white or silver van gets the message across that you are a clean chimney sweep.
Chimney sweep business cards will help to spread your name around if you leave a few with each satisfied customer. A website costs a lot less to set up and update than expensive print advertising, and people will search for you using the Internet anyway.