Hiring a chimney sweep, is it worth it? Yes!

SEATTLE -- If a scene from Disney's 'Mary Poppins' is what comes to mind when you think if hiring a chimney sweep, think again.

Experts say you'll want to hire a certified company at least once a year to clean your chimney.  An inspection and cleaning can cost you more than $300.  That price tag might have you wondering, 'Is it worth it?'

According to the National Fire Protection Associate, dirty chimneys are a leading cause of structure fires. A 2016 report from the NFPA shows home heating equipment accounted for 19 percent of home fire deaths between 2009 and 2013. Thirty percent of those fires came from failure to clean equipment, like chimneys.

Brent Spraker, a product manager at PEMCO Insurance, told Q13, the main culprit is creosote.

"Creosote is the build up you get in a chimney from burning wood specifically," Spraker said. "It's a black tar-like residue and if that builds up and isn't cleaned, that can be a fire hazard."

Trying to avoid the costs of hiring a certified chimney sweep by doing it yourself could be costly, too, if it's not done correctly. Spraker said you need to know what you're looking for.

"You can't just necessarily eyeball it and say 'oh that's good' or 'that's not good,'" Spraker said.  "There may be things hidden that you're not aware of."

Hidden things, like debris or birds nests.

The price tag might seem steep but, Spraker said, you get peace of mind. That's why Spraker said, yes hiring a chimney clean company once a year is worth it.

"If you do something proactive that can help prevent a loss, that's a good thing," Spraker said. "You have peace of mind that your house is safe, your family is safe, you know santa isn't going to get dirty when he comes down the chimney."

Always seek the services of a chimney sweep who is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. You can find a CSIA certified chimney sweep using a zip code finder at CSIA.org.