A chimney gives you a way to release toxic exhaust gasses from your fireplace out of the home, and they’ll leave soot and tar when they leave the house. This means that routine cleaning is necessary to keep it safe to use, and you’ll want to know the average chimney sweep cost to come out and complete this project for you. If you don’t, the soot and tar will build up and turn into creosote, and this is a very flammable material that can catch fire and cause a lot of damage. At a minimum, you’ll want to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned out thoroughly once a year, if not more.
The chimney sweep cost will depend on the inspection’s scope, which methods they use, and how much cleaning it needs. Your chimney sweep costs will range from $100 to $300, and most people end up paying right around $200 for their chimney sweep costs for a level two inspection and cleaning in a wood stove or pellet chimney. If you need a level one inspection of a gas fireplace chimney, your chimney sweep costs can fall to around $80.00 each time they come out. The high end of the spectrum is right around $800.
However, if you allow the soot and tar to build up for years at a time, you’ll be on the higher end of the spectrum. It’s also possible to buy kits at $50.00 to $100 each, but this isn’t recommended because you never know if you get everything out. It’s a better idea to budget for chimney sweep costs and have them come out once or twice a year because you’ll know that it’s clean and safe to continue using. This way, you can use it as much as you want to lower your electric bills without worrying about a fire.
So, if you need to find out the average chimney sweep cost to get and keep your chimney clean and reduce the chances of a carbon monoxide leak or airflow issues, this is for you. We’re going to break down the average chimney sweep costs and you can see which ones apply to your situation. This way, you can set money aside and schedule your annual or bi-annual cleaning whenever it is convenient for you.
Many people don’t have any idea of the chimney sweep cost ranges because they’ve never dealt with one before. However, it’s important that you keep your chimney clean and in good shape, especially if you use it regularly to prevent accidents. Chimney sweep by astrid westvang / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Understanding the Different Parts of the Chimney
Before we dive into the chimney sweep costs, you have to get a good understanding of why this is a project best left to the professionals. Every chimney has different parts on it, and the number of parts your setup has will depend heavily on how complex your chimney is.
The chimney flue, firebox, damper, and liner are common for all chimneys. Every part has different materials and requires different techniques and tools to clean them, and this is why chimney sweep costs range. They’ll clean the following parts by:
A damper is a metal piece that moves to prevent or allow smoke from the fireplace from getting into the flue. Most dampers are around a foot above the fireplace’s opening, so your professional will have to unpin or unhinge it from the original position to clean it. Some dampers may not come unpinned or unhinged, so your chimney sweep will have to clean it in place. Generally speaking, they’ll bring out a wire brush to remove the soot before wiping it down with a cleaning mixture.
Your firebox is the part of the fireplace where the wood sits and burns, unless you have a ventless gas option. The firebox typically gets inserted into the stove or fireplace to burn the material inside of your fireplace. Part of your chimney sweep costs are for materials, and they’ll use a bendable noodle brush to clean the smoke brush.
They’ll also need a long-handled brush that can clean the soot from the side of your firebox. They’ll also have to cover any nearby surfaces to prevent any soot from getting onto it before they clean this part of your fireplace. Depending on the amount of work needed and the chemicals, your chimney sweep costs will fluctuate.
Unlike the firebox that is a box that sits inside the fireplace, the fireplace refers to the entire structure where you burn the wood each time you light it. The firebox uses masonry brick in the design, or it can have a mortal style. There is also a zero-clearance, factory-built metal style available.
Just like they clean the firebox, the chimney sweep will get a hard-haired brush to clean the inside of the fireplace. If the bricks on the inside of the fireplace have fire damage or they’re dark, they may increase their chimney sweep costs by spraying chemicals to restore them to their original state.
The flue is the air shaft or neck of your chimney that runs to the top of the chimney from the firebox. There is a cap at the top of the flue that stops animals and water from leaking inside the chimney. Chimneys can come with one flue, no flue, or several. Several flues are more decorative and they generally have the highest chimney sweep costs to maintain and clean. They’ll typically scrub a cleaning brush up and down every section of your flue to get rid of the soot.
Finally, your chimney liner will help to protect any masonry work in your chimney from the byproducts that come each time you use it. It uses materials that can withstand very high heat like stainless steel to ensure that your fire and the heat stays inside the chimney and fireplace. The liners get cleaned using specific polypropylene bristles brushes that can increase your chimney sweep costs. The brushes remove creosote, soot, and debris without causing damage.
Cost to Inspect the Chimneys
Your chimney sweep costs will depend on which level of inspection you need. There are three different inspection levels available, as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association. The procedure’s invasiveness will dictate what level your chimney falls under. Each inspection level has a different chimney sweep cost associated with it, and each level includes cleaning. The three levels, including cleaning with their costs are:
- Level One – $85.00 to $950
- Level Two – $150 to $1,000
- Level Three – $500 to $5,000
The inspection level required to properly clean your chimney will dictate your total chimney sweep costs. The higher the inspection level is, the more labor-intensive it’ll be, and the longer it’ll take from start to finish. Chimney sweep by Leigh Blackall / CC BY 2.0
How Fireplace Type Dictates Your Chimney Sweep Cost
You want to figure out your chimney sweep costs and clean it regularly to help detect issues like holes or cracks that can lead to house fires and maximize how efficient it is. Every heating appliance has a different chimney installed, and chimneys all feature different elements and materials that require you to bring in a chimney sweep to clean them, and this causes your total chimney sweep costs to fluctuate.
You’ll have to run a gas line to get your gas fireplace to run, but they are one of the more affordable heating options you have. It’s an energy-efficient option that has a straightforward installation process and they can cost less than other appliances. All of these factors make it a very budget-friendly option for homeowners to consider. Also, these types of fireplaces produce no smell and are easy to light, so they can help you create a nice atmosphere.
You may not need a chimney for a gas fireplace, however, having one can enhance your home’s interior while minimizing carbon monoxide problem risks. They also require a lot less maintenance than a pellet stove or wood. There is no soot to worry about getting rid of or logs to get rid of, so your chimney sweep costs will be lower. Also, they should only have to come out every other year. Your chimney sweep costs for this type of fireplace range from $80.00 to $130.
A pellet stove is a very efficient heating system, and they’re an environmentally-friendly choice that gives you an automatic ignition to make it more convenient. Burning pellets means that you’ll get residue inside your stove box, and you’ll clean it weekly to ensure it lasts. It’s important to note that not all chimney sweeps will clean pellet stoves, and you’ll usually have to hire them separately. If they do both, your chimney sweep cost will range between $130 to $200.
Wood Burning Chimney
A wood burning appliance is one of the most popular on the market, but they also need the most maintenance out of any option. Burning wood will leave a thick residue that will form creosote. Regular cleaning and maintenance ensures that this buildup doesn’t cause damage or catch fire. If you use them frequently, you need to budget your chimney sweep costs for quarterly visits. You can buy wood burning inserts with a liner or a regular insert too. This will cause your chimney sweep cost to fluctuate between $160 and $240.
Wood stoves also require annual, regular cleaning because it creates creosote when you burn wood. The smoke leaves it as a residue on your chimney, and it sticks to your flue. Having regular cleaning sessions will get rid of this buildup while cleaning out other residue or debris that can easily obstruct the path exhaust gases take to exit your home. You could find nests built by squirrels or birds, branches, leaves from your maple tree, or other tree parts lodged here. Your chimney sweep costs will range from $150 to $300.
Preparing for a Visit From the Chimney Sweep
You want the chimney sweep to do their job correctly, and this means they need good access to the area to clean it easily. You may want to get any decor or furniture out of the way, as well as any rugs. They’ll get dirty during the cleaning process, so removing them is a nice proactive step. You may also not be able to use the fireplace 24 hours before they arrive to clean it.
Once they get to your home, they’ll put a protective covering on surfaces to stop them from getting dirty with debris or soot that will fall out of the chimney. They’ll lay down runners throughout your home, and this stops the soot from tracking to other areas of your home.
Chimney Sweep Costs for Labor
Your professional will come in with hop vacuums and specialized brushes to clean your chimney and remove any dust or soot. They’ll start their project in the firebox and work upwards. They can also start at the chimney and work downwards, or they may use a combination of the two methods, but it depends on your specific chimney’s design. They’ll cover the fireplace area with drop cloths or tarps to protect the floor and trap any dust that falls during cleaning.
A lot of companies roll their chimney sweep costs into a package deal to include inspection and cleaning. They can also charge a flat rate for their chimney sweep costs at $100 to $300 for the inspections and cleaning services.
Others can charge an hourly rate at $75.00 an hour. If you end up paying an hourly rate for your chimney sweep costs, it’ll take between 30 minutes and an hour for a Level One or Level Two inspection. For Level Three inspections, it can take more than a day, but this will depend on the amount of work needed to complete the project.
Price Factors for Chimney Cleaning
Your total chimney sweep costs will depend on several price factors, but there are three main ones that you want to keep in mind because they can cause the biggest fluctuations. They include:
- Roof Accessibility – How accessible is your roof for the chimney sweep? Roofs that have a steeper pitch to them will be less accessible than a more sloped roof, and this makes it more difficult and dangerous to work around.
- Time Since Last Cleaning – Finally, how long has it been since you last had a chimney sweep out? If it’s been years, your chimney sweep costs will go up because it can take several sessions to get the layers of soot and buildup off, and this leads to extra charges.
- Usage – How often do you plan to use your fireplace? A fireplace that gets very infrequent use won’t need as much cleaning as one you use regularly. If you use it more than four times a week, you’ll need to schedule more thorough cleaning.
How much your chimney sweep costs end up to be is comparable between wood stoves and chimneys, you will have to pay more to clean a wood stove if the flue is difficult to access or an odd shape.
There are several price factors that’ll go into figuring out your budget for a chimney sweep. It’s better to go over your budget than it is to fall short and have to scramble to pay your bill. My Chimney Sweeps by Bev Currie / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Performing regular maintenance will increase your chimney’s lifespan. It’ll also work to minimize how much creosote builds up with other chimney debris. There are a few basic things you can do between cleaning for maintenance, including cleaning the ashes regularly to prevent accumulation and using properly seasoned firewood. Seasoned firewood will add to your costs by $120 to $180 a cord. During the heating season, the cost per cord for seasoned wood ranges from $200 to $300.
You also want to avoid using chemically-processed, painted, or pressure-treated wood. These types of wood will release toxic fumes when you burn them. You also always want to open the damper to the biggest capacity before you start a fire in your fireplace.
Additional Cost Factors
Your chimney sweep may run into some problems during the cleaning process, so it’s a good idea to budget a little more for your chimney sweep costs in case something comes up. A few of the most popular cost factors include:
It’s common for rodents, small animals, and birds to get trapped in your chimney. They could also make nests below your chimney cap, and some will die and get trapped in your flue. If you don’t remove them properly, they can obstruct your normal air flow and prevent exhaust gasses from escaping. For the easily removed and small animals like birds or rodents, your chimney sweep costs can go up around $100. Larger animals or more complicated removals can easily total up to $700 more.
If you need to remove your chimney breast or repair parts of your chimney, this is additional costs. Replacing your chimney liner will cost between $1,000 and $7,000 on average, and most people will spend around $2,000 to install a new one. If the cap is damaged due to wildlife or poor weather conditions, you may need to pay to replace it.
If you want to have your replacement cost installed professionally, this can cost around $350. If your chimney crown sustains damage, excess water can leak in and cause bricks to separate or cause your clay tiles to denigrate. To repair a chimney crown, you’ll pay around $900. Flashing repairs range from $175 for smaller projects up to $1,000 for brick replacement. Installing a new damper will run between $150 and $500.
Creosote Cleaning Logs
If you use creosote, it lowers the risk of damage to your chimney or fireplace and fires starting. These types of logs have minerals in them that work to dry out creosote and tar. However, these logs shouldn’t take the place of a professional cleaning, so you should still set money aside for chimney sweep costs. Schedule for regular cleanings, regardless of any maintenance you do. These logs cost around $12.00 each.
Wood stoves come with chimneys that you need to clean. If you operate your wood stove under an ideal condition, they’ll have a grey-colored ash for residue. If you see a shiny residue inside the door, it could be time to clean it. Wood stove cleaning costs an average of $95.00. If your wood stove insert doesn’t have a liner, this will add $50.00 to your chimney sweep costs. They’ll have to remove any insert pipes during the cleaning process to add $20.00 to your total each.
Where to Find Chimney Sweeps Near You
If you need to schedule a chimney sweep to come to your home or building and clean the chimney, you want to go with a local and reputable company. You can start here:
Frequently Asked Questions
Asking questions when you contact your local companies can help ensure that you get solid price quotes for the scope of your project. Make sure to contact a few companies and ask them all the same set of questions to get costs across the board. chimney cleaning – my house – 2015-10-03 by Tim Evanson / CC BY-SA 2.0
1. What is the average time to clean a chimney?
This will depend on the level of the inspection and cleaning you need. Level One and Two can take between 30 minutes to a few hours, but Level Three can take up to a day or two to complete. Also, how long it’s been since it was cleaned will factor in.
2. How can you tell if it’s time to clean the chimney?
If your damper starts to get dark, you smell burning wood, or if the fire burns poorly when you light it, these are all clues that you need to clean your chimney. They’ll get worse the longer you go without cleaning it.
3. How do you clean the outside of the chimney?
If you can see darker stains on your chimney’s exterior, you can use a pressure washer or a strong detergent to remove it. You can also ask your chimney sweep if they offer exterior cleaning services.
4. Is it possible to sweep your own chimney?
You can buy some DIY chimney sweeping tools so you can perform this task yourself and save on your chimney sweep costs. However, it’s recommended that you hire a professional company to come in and do it for you.
Your chimney sweep costs will vary based on the complexity of the job, inspection levels, and how long it’s been since your last clean. However, it has a relatively tight cost range, so it should be easier to budget for this project ahead of time. You can use this guide as a starting point to get a rough estimate before you call local companies to help create your working budgets.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.