- Work for yourself or for a company sweeping chimneys in private households or commercial settings
- Requires the ability to use a range of tools and equipment, and to work at height and climb ladders if necessary
- You'll need to wear a face mask and overalls and be comfortable working in cramped conditions
Chimney sweeping is a trade that dates back to around the 1600’s where practices were much different from today. Back then climbing boys and girls were used to sweep the deposits off from inside the chimney.
A chimney sweep needs to have a number of qualities; they need to be practical, problem solver, good communicator, professional, with good office skills and above all have the drive to increase and manage their business to be able to thrive.
- Inspecting the chimney or flue before cleaning
- Protecting the surrounding area so that soot and debris doesn't escape into a room
- Using brushes on extending rods to clean the chimney or flue
- Removing soot and debris from the fireplace or appliance using an industrial vacuum cleaner
- Advising customers about any potential hazards and faults and when the chimney or flue will need cleaning again
- Using equipment such as smoke-generating machines and CCTV cameras to examine the condition of chimneys and investigate faults
- Advising customers on the safe operation and maintenance of chimneys, appliances and flues
As a self-employed chimney sweep your earnings will vary according to how much work you have and what you can charge. You'll usually work 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, but may work occasional Saturdays. You may be busier in spring and autumn. Most of your work will be in private houses, but you could also work on heating systems on industrial or commercial premises. You'll need to wear a face mask and overalls and you may get extremely dirty.
There are no set requirements to become a Chimney sweep but you'll usually need to find an experienced chimney sweep to take you on and train you on the job. As part of that training, you could complete a Level 2 Certificate in Chimney Sweeping or Level 2 Diploma in Chimney Engineering.
Experience in construction or engineering may be helpful, although not essential to do these courses.
You could take a training course with a professional body. 'Become a Chimney Sweep' has a summary of training providers who deliver courses from introductory level to advanced.
Many chimney sweeps set up their own business once they have some experience.
It may be helpful to join professional and industry bodies such as National Association of Chimney Sweeps, The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, Association of Professional and Independent Chimney Sweeps and Sweep Safe. They offer training and professional development opportunities.
You'll usually be self-employed, although you may also find jobs with private companies like solid fuel distributors. It may be possible to buy an existing business.