It feels great to enjoy a crackling fire sitting on the hearth of a chilly winter evening. However, it hardly feels half as good when the time comes to clean your chimneys, so you resort to the easiest course of action: procrastinate!
And yet, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) tells us that improper or inadequate chimney maintenance results in more than 25,000 residential fires every year and these accidents translate to over $100,000,000 in property damage and losses.
However, one can easily prevent these chimney related hazards by regular and timely maintenance, cleaning and servicing of their chimneys. Some homeowners prefer to do this on their own, however this is a professional’s job and according to our opinion, are best left to people trained and skilled to perform the job. In other words, the chimney sweeps.
Now, in this day we are living in, a chimney sweep may sound like a quaint relic of the past and admittedly, the words have an old-worldly ring to them. And yet, you’ll be surprised to find that chimney service and maintenance is very much a live and valid profession even to this day.
For one thing, increase in energy costs in recent years has led many homeowners to look for alternatives such as wood or coal for the purposes of heating their homes. In addition, demands for multi-fuel stoves and open fires have observed a significant increase in the past years as well.
Especially, multi-fuel stoves have been popular with homeowners since they allow one to burn zero carbon or carbon-neutral fuels and thus help reduce one’s carbon footprint. And trained chimney service professionals also offer installation and maintenance services for multi-fuel stoves.
Here’s an interesting piece of statistics for you. During the mid 2000s, the number of people in UK applying to become certified chimney sweeps and installers grew by nearly 40%. That ought to give you an idea, although admittedly the multi fuel stoves are not so much of a craze in the US as they are in continental Europe.
Chimney Sweep Industry Statistics
So, how many operating chimney sweeps are there in the US right now? Well, according to data released by CSIA, there are as many as 5,000 chimney sweep and maintenance companies in the US and they have more than 6,500 certified chimney sweeps working for them.
However, one must keep in mind that not all chimney sweeps operating at different parts of the country hold a CSIA certificate. Often those willing to pursue a career as a chimney sweep start out as an apprentice under an experienced and master chimney sweep and once they’ve learned the ropes, go out on their own.
For example, not all registered chimney sweep professionals at the National Chimney Sweep Guild are certified ones and then, there are all those that are working independently and are not registered at the Guild either. That being so, having certification is ultimately to one’s own advantage since it increases one’s chance of getting employed by professional chimney sweep companies and help him earn a better income. On a side note, it is also a good idea for all chimney service professionals to have liability insurance since the job comes with certain potential hazards.
Chimney Sweep Income Statistics
Due to the fact that the chimney sweep industry is not a fully regulated one, reports regarding average income of chimney sweeps normally tend to vary, often considerably, from one report to another. To go by reports from the Savannah Morning News and the Tribune, someone who is working as a full-time chimney sweep earns between $500 and $1,000 per week.
Also, it is somewhat difficult to estimate average salaries of a chimney sweep since many don’t pursue the work full time, especially in places where there is not enough work, and support themselves via other sources of income. Mother Earth News Magazine informs that an energetic chimney sweep, usually someone who can handle other related jobs as well such as repairing chimney liners and damaged masonry, etc., can earn an annual salary as high as $25,000 to $50,000 per year. And a very limited number of master sweeps reportedly earn a salary close to $80,000 per year!
It is also often assumed (and reported) that sweeps living in colder climates earn higher salaries. The facts, however, do not seem to support the assumption. According to Salary Expert, the highest paid chimney sweeps live in New York, earning as much as $25,400 per year (as of 2011) and the next best paid sweeps work in Chicago with earnings of close to $21,900 per year. And in all other US cities, be it the sunny Phoenix ($19,231) or the chilly Indianapolis ($19,563), there is not much of a difference between average salaries of chimney sweep workers.