Are there still chimney sweeps

Chimney sweep - how often does he come? Duty & costs

Chimney sweeps bring good luck. That's an old saying. Above all, they ensure that the fireplaces in the house are safe. But can you choose the chimney sweeper yourself? And what if it's too expensive?

They are well-known messengers of good luck: the chimney sweeps. A little ash from the chimney sweeper on your face or touching the golden buttons should bring good things. This superstition has its origin in the Middle Ages. Back then, houses caught fire more easily and more frequently than they do today. The chimney sweep brought security and thus happiness into the house through his work.

What does a chimney sweep do?

Decades ago, one of his main tasks was to sweep the soot out of chimneys with a brush. But that is a long time ago. Today the chimney sweepers have an overview of all the heating, exhaust and ventilation systems in a house in addition to the chimney.

In doing so, they check whether systems are operational and fire-safe. "The experts control emissions of all kinds, such as particulate matter or carbon monoxide, using complicated measuring procedures," explains Daniel Fürst, first chairman of the Central Association of German Chimney Sweeps. The chimney sweep also checks whether the fireplaces are working efficiently and whether the gas pipes are tight.

The chimney sweeps belong to so-called state guild associations (LIV) or guilds - these are associations of craftsmen from the same trade. As experts on site, they are the point of contact for the energy and heating transition. To do this, the chimney sweeps evaluate the energy efficiency of buildings, create energy certificates and recommend sensible energy renovation work on the house.

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An energy certificate or energy pass shows how energy efficient a building is - or in other words: whether the available energy is being used optimally and not wasted. Read the most important questions and answers about the document.

Can you choose your chimney sweep freely?

Up until 2012, the chimney sweeper always thought along automatically. Every year there was a small piece of paper in the mailbox unsolicited. With this the chimney sweep announced his visit. The craftsman responsible for the district did his job reliably.

Master chimney sweep: They are rare. 99 percent of chimney sweepers are men. (Source: imagebroker / imago images)

However, since 2013 homeowners have been able to search for or order a specialist themselves. The respective craft business can be researched online, for example. The chimney sweep selected here must, however, be listed in the chimney sweep register of the Federal Office for Economics and Export Control (Bafa). Because only these meet the requirements for independent chimney sweeping work. Here you can find the register information

How often does the chimney sweep have to check?

This question can not be answered generally. A distinction must be made here between "free" and "sovereign" tasks. This is what the Chimney Sweep Crafts Act (SchfHwG) wants. The "free" include sweeping, checking and measuring heaters. The intervals at which the chimney sweep has to stop by depend on the type of heating:

Type of heatingSweeping / checkingmeasure up
Oil boilers / oil condensing boilersyearlyevery 2-3 years
Oil boiler (independent of room air)every 2 yearsevery 2-3 years
Gas boiler / gas condensing boileryearlyevery 2–3 years / never
Gas condensing boiler (overpressure exhaust system)every 2 yearsnever
Gas boiler (room air independent)every 2 yearsevery 2-3 years
Fireplace / tiled stove (used regularly in the heating season)3 times a yearnever
Fireplace / tiled stove (more than occasionally used)2 times a yearnever
Fireplace / tiled stove (used occasionally)Once a yearnever
Fireplace / tiled stove (ready for operation, but not in use)Once a yearnever
Pellet stove2 times a yearnever
Solid fuel boilers2 times a yearevery 2 years

Source: Stiftung Warentest (as of February 5, 2019)

On the other hand, a fireplace exhibition and the issuing of a fireplace notification are among the "sovereign" work. This - in contrast to the "free tasks" - is only allowed to be carried out by the district chimney sweep.

What is a fireplace notification?

The deadlines in which the heating must be swept, checked and measured are stated in the so-called fireplace notification. Every homeowner should have obtained it from the district chimney sweep. The notification lists the fireplaces and records which work has to be done on the system and in which period. According to the Federal Association of Chimney Sweepers, these are

  • Measurements
  • Reviews
  • Cleaning work

The latter concern gas and oil heating systems, heating systems for solid fuels including their exhaust systems and the cleaning of chimneys for fireplace and tiled stoves, open chimneys and other stoves for solid fuels.

How much does a fire place notification cost?

The costs for the fireplaces notice are set out in the Sweeping and Inspection Regulations (KÜO). The notification costs between 10 and 40 AW (labor values) depending on the number of combustion systems. The amount varies depending on the federal state. A work value corresponds to one minute of work. The actual fee results from the multiplication of the labor value by 1.20 euros plus the statutory sales tax of 19 percent.

Price example
According to this, a fireplaces notice for up to three fireplaces costs ten labor values, the equivalent of around ten euros. The maximum cost of the document is 30 labor values.

What is a fireplace show?

There is also a so-called fireplace show. This takes place twice within seven years, with at least three years between them. In addition, a fireplace inspection is always necessary when, for example, a new heating system is put into operation. The fireplace show applies to all types of heating (oil, gas, wood, coal, pellets) and is only handled by the district chimney sweep.

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Landlords can allocate the costs for the fireplace show to the tenants via the operating costs and include them in the annual utility bill.

What does a chimney sweep cost?

There is no single answer to this question either. The costs for the "sovereign" tasks - such as the fireplace inspection and the fireplace notification - are stipulated by law in the sweeping and inspection regulations (KÜO).

The regular "free", private-sector tasks are not subject to any fee schedule. The important thing here is which provider (chimney sweep company) the homeowner decides on. The consumer portal Verivox assumes a savings potential of ten to 30 percent. Stiftung Warentest points out, however, that additional journeys and formalities often reduce the price advantage. The costs that landlords and homeowners have to reckon with also depend on the age, use and type of heating:

Type of heatingChimney sweep costs (on average)
Oil / gas heating (conventional)approx. 40–50 euros
Oil / gas boiler (independent of ambient air)approx. 20–40 euros
Wood / pellet heatingapprox. 40–60 euros
Fireplace / tiled stove (used occasionally)approx. 20-30 euros
Fireplace / tiled stove (often used)approx. 70–80 euros

Source: Verivox

Is there a chimney sweep obligation?

Yes, house and real estate owners in Germany are obliged to have their fireplaces checked regularly by a chimney sweep - this applies to the sweeping, checking and measuring of heating systems as well as the fireplace inspection.

Is it easy to change the chimney sweep?

Yes, if the "chemistry" between you and the chimney sweep is not right, or if you simply find it too expensive, you can change it. However, as the home owner, you are obliged to report your new chimney sweep to your district representative that the tasks have been completed. This records it in the dust-book. If the forms are not received in time up to 14 days after the end of the deadline, the district chimney sweep reports this to the responsible administrative authority - such as the district office.

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The office then sets a second deadline. Depending on the federal state, this failure costs 40 to 100 euros fine.

If the homeowner also lets the second deadline pass, the authorities take action themselves: they commission the district chimney sweep to do the work. If necessary, a carpenter or locksmith opens the door and gives those responsible access. The authorities have a reason: For safety reasons, fireplaces need regular maintenance. This operation can cost several hundred euros - also for the homeowner.

How much does a chimney sweep earn a month?

The salary depends on the state, region, journeyman's year, additional qualifications and company. In their first year as a journeyman, chimney sweeps earn 13.62 euros gross per hour in accordance with the federal collective agreement. As a master chimney sweep, you get between 18.57 euros and 19.22 euros gross per hour.

For a 40-hour week, that's around 3,000 euros gross per month or 36,000 euros gross annually. Some employers may also pay capital formation benefits, travel expenses, work clothes and Christmas bonuses.

What is the chimney sweep not allowed to do?

Stiftung Warentest points out that some district chimney sweeps are trying to sell additional services without being asked. This includes, for example, the installation of smoke detectors. Some chimney sweeps are also happy to offer the so-called gas show. This can be done by the homeowner or landlord themselves, as can the installation of the smoke alarm.