Chimney Cleaning & Repair

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Chimney cleaner

Dec 2013

We're looking for a chimney cleaner. The highly rated yelp businesses are booked for a couple months and not returning calls. Suggestions? Thanks anon

Hi, We have a WONDERFUL chimney cleaner named Chester Waldon. Chester has cleaned our fireplace every year for the last 3 years [before we start burning wood]-. Not only is he through, he spends alot of time making sure that you have no cracks between the bricks and if he does find anything suspicious.. he takes care of it right then and there. He is an honest, kind and thoughtful man and reminds me of 'Little Richard' -[. which always cracks him up when I tell him this !!]. At the end of his work, he gives you a certification stating that your fireplace is safe to burn wood [or whatever.] If you want great service at a moderate price, Chester is your guy !! You can reach him @ 510 635-9990; 510 846-0964 judy

Yes, I do have a suggestion. Don't burn wood, it really gets the chimney dirty, and the air. If you put candles in your fireplace instead, it will be a whole lot cheaper,much easier than hauling the wood and your neighbors will thank you. In addition, it looks beautiful!

But you say, it will not heat the house. Well, a wood fire does not actually heat the house, either. It takes the warm air in the home and sends it up the chimney.

So in actual fact, burning wood can increase your PG bill. If you must burn wood, at least use manufactured logs. They burn much cleaner.

If you care to read some information about how detrimental wood smoke is to your health, here it is.

Sorry to be so preachy, but this affects you, your children, and everyone within a quarter mile of your wood fire. In addition, you didn't ask for chimney sweeps, you asked for suggestions. Well, I have given you suggestions much better than a chimney sweep. Please consider them. Anon

Need a chimney sweep or chimney inspector

Dec 2013

I've noticed some broken plaster pieces in my fireplace/hearth area. It seems maybe about a sq foot area of plaster or whatever material was used to finish off the inside of my chimney or fireplace has fallen down. I'd like some qualified person to tell me if it is safe to use the fireplace this winter or if I need to get this fixed. It's not a large amount of broken material, but better safe than sorry, I guess. Anybody have a person they would recommend? Thank you, Stef

We just had Sally, 'The Irish Sweep' come to clean our chimney and inspect for safety. She and her team mate were great! She had a wait list because it was near Thanksgiving, but was able to slip me in on a cancellation. She arrived on time, was very professional, pleasant and knowledgeable - gave us some perspective on potential future repairs without pressuring us or making us feel ignorant (for neglecting our chimney for 18 years). Local company - I'd highly recommend! sara

Chimney sweep

Oct 2012

We're looking for a chimney sweep. We've lived in our house and never had the chimney swept. Do you have someone you'd recommend who did a good job and wasn't too expensive? How often do you get this service done? Thanks! Dirty chimney

Paul owner of Chelsea Sweep is great. Sorry that I'm not where I have his number handy but I'm sure you can google him. Does a great job and is very reasonable and friendly. Ron

Chiminey sweep to replace damper

May 2012

WE need our damper replaced. Does any one know a reasonably priced chimney sweep?

I just used Johnny's Fireplace Service 925-297-9246 to install a new damper and cap assembly and highly recommend him. I'm so satisfied with his price, his seamless service, and the fact that he recycles parts from other fireplaces he has replaced with wood pellet stoves. We have tried to fix our fireplace 2x, once in 1998 and again last year. Both times we decided to delay this repair because bids we received from other contractors were so expensive. Johnny's bid was so reasonable there was no need for delay any more! Deborah

Chimney person?

Dec 2011

Hello! Does anyone have a chimney person that they recommend? We just moved into an old house in Berkeley, and our chimney flume is open, and we can't close it for the life of us. We would love to find someone recommended to help us with these problems! Thanks so much for your input. Caroline

The Irish Chimney Sweep is great! Woman-owned company - they did a fantastic job refurbishing my entire chimney. Works perfectly now! -Warm and Happy

Chimney repair

Dec 2011

Can anyone recommend a reputable chimney repair service (not just chimney sweep) ? Thank you Phylis

We had our very tall, slightly cracked chimney taken down to the bare minimum (just above the roof) by H. Soot 510.522.0783. It wasn't working as a wood-burning fireplace anyway, so we installed a gas fire that works with our little chimney, and we've been very happy with it. The gas fire was installed by Paul at Chelsea, 510.597.0333. Carrie

After being swindled by someone who took our deposit for repairs and never returned, I researched the issue at great length and then called the Irish Chimney Sweep. It is a woman-owned company that has been in business for a long time. They repaired several issues with my chimney (house was built in 1926) and did an absolutely fantastic job and cleaned up perfectly afterwards. Top notch company and workmanship. The best part is that the owner's cell phone had the ring tone from Mary Poppins (chim chim cher-ee) -Very Satisfied Custumer with Perfectly Working Chimney

Smoky chimney

March 2011

Hi- I've started using the fireplace in my new (old) house and it smokes somewhat. Any suggestions or recommendations from the wonderful BPN community? Thanks in advance. Jane

We've owned three houses in the fifteen years, and have worked with the same great chimney guy for all of them. In one case, he totally eliminated a smoking problem by adding a strip of black metal at the top of the fireplace opening. Apparently many were built too tall for their width and don't draw well. It looks fine, more or less disappears from view when in use. He will also give your chimney a thorough cleaning, which is important to do yearly if you use it much, for safety. His name is Chester Waldron, 510-635-9990. anne

The cheapest and easiest thing to do is to just put candles in the fireplace. It really looks lovely, plus, it is better for your health and the environment than burning wood. The other issue is heating. A wood fire pulls the heat out of the house and sends it up the chimney. So candles are win/win/win!!! Anon

Does it just smoke when you first light the fire? If so, no worries, but if it smokes even when the fire is going well, stop making fires there! and contract a chimney sweep to clean it and check for leaks. You might also need an engineer to determine the fix for an old chimney.

If it's just at the beginning, one of the main things that happens is the smoke does not really draft up the chimney and collects around the throat, then out into the living room. This can be addressed in two ways: 1. by opening windows and/or doors and 2. by lighting the first kindling and holding it up into the throat until it starts to draft.

And don't forget to check whether we have a spare-the-air day when you decide to start a fire. Fireplace Fires can be somewhat polluting. In fact, new construction does not allow a traditional fireplace anymore in Berkeley and other communities. Andus

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Chimney is pulling away from the house

Oct 2007

I own a duplex in North Berkeley, built in the 30s by my great- grandfather, and one chimney is pulling away from the house at the roofline probably due to the August earthquake. The house foundation is sound. I'm looking for a contractor recommendations to replace or remove both chimneys. Karla

We had a wonderful experience with Sally, the owner/operator of The Irish Sweep. We had a fireplace that had been covered over when bought the house. She opened it up for us, tested the chimney for us, and then rebuilt the portions that needed fixing as well as a new firebox for us. It was a tricky job as the chimney was from 1918 but she did fantastic work. She clearly knew her stuff! And was a lovely person to deal with as well. Their website is Good luck! Julie

How to remove paint inside fireplace

Oct 2007

My husband and I are renovating a home. For some unknown reason the inside of the fireplace is painted with glossy white paint which we'd like to remove. The previous owner died, and we believe his extended family slapped white paint/primer on many of the walls to get the house up for sale quickly. Besides being an eyesore and potentially toxic (should the paint burn), it could also be hiding something. We'd like to have the paint removed (sandblasted?), and the fireplace evaluated so that we can eventually enjoy it. Do you know of someone that can help? karen

Posted this up above for another question but will repost here. We had a wonderful experience with Sally, the owner/operator of The Irish Sweep. She fixed our fireplace in our 1918 bungalow. She knows everything there is to know about fireplaces and does great work-- bet she could help you too. Their website is Good luck! Julie

January 2007

I am looking for a good chimney sweep

Anyone know a good chimney sweep in Berkeley? We are hoping to use our fireplace for the first time during this winter. Thanks! clil

When we bought our house in 2002, we hired Paul Michiewicz ''Chimney Sweep & Repair'' to inspect the fireplace and fix the chimney. 510.848.8893. I still see his truck around town. The man loves chimneys and really knows how to make them work well. Ann

I would like to recommend Johnny Key, Johnny's Fireplace Services, Installation and Repairs, Woodstoves a Specialty. His number is 925-297-9246. In addition to being a chimney sweep, he also does fireplace installations and maintenance. He did maintenance on our living room fireplace and solved our problem quickly. He has also done other small jobs for us
Allan F

When we bought our house four years ago, we used The Irish Sweep. The woman who runs the business was very professional, knowledgable and gave us a lot of good information re the upkeep of our fireplace and chimney. Her number is (510) 521-4088

Nick of Berkeley Chimneys (in the phone book) is very reasonably priced and reliable. He has been cleaning and repairing my chimney for years Brenda

I used Irish Sweep just last week. The gentlemen that came was prompt and professional. They were in and out very quickly. The only thing that bothered me was that the owner quoted me $125 for a cleaning.. and they ended up charging me $190.

Hi. I used HS Soot this past September, and everything from the prompt return call to the visit was professional. Very friendly, informative, clean, on time. I'd tried Irish Sweep and Berkeley Chimney and never received a return phone call--and called each twice. Leila

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Dec 2006

I am looking for a good and reasonably priced chimney sweep and the latest recommendations I see posted are from 2004. Any current suggestions? Kathy

I highly recommend Nick at Berkeley Chimneys. He did a chimeny check/sweep at both our house and my parent's this past October. What i liked about him: -reliable (always rtned phone calls that very same day), -- pleasant to deal with each time i spoke to him, -thorough(went over his notes and recommendations and their cost one by one), -not pushy(tells you if you can do the repair yourself and how!), -follows through(called us with numerous updates on a cap our chimney pipe needed which he special ordered), -cleaned after himself!!!(didn't need to sweep or do anything after he was done with the sweep, which happened during a time i had guests sitting close to the chimeny-never felt interrupted). his number is 510-528-1002 Pooneh

Paul Mickiewicz is the guy; tel # 848-8893 emily

Reasonably priced chimney cleaning

Feb 2005

I would like a recommendation for a reliable, VERY reasonably priced person to clean my chimney. Thanks.

In response to the person looking for a reasonably priced, reliable chimney sweep, I recommend Berkeley Chimneys. They did some work for us a couple years ago -- their prices were reasonable, work was good, and they even recommended (rightly) against an expensive repair. ckatz

Reasonably priced chimney sweep?

October 2004

Hello, we are looking for a current recommendation for chimney sweeping, including cost and availability of service. Any tips? Thanks, beatrice

We used Mick from Berkely Chimneys. He was great. I think he charged about $125 for a one-story chimney and $145 for a two-story. He was quick and also gave us some advice on the state of our mantle which is pulling away from the wall. He also did an inspection and sealed a crack that had formed inside our firebox. I really liked him -- his rates were competitive and he was thorough and efficient. I don't have his number handy, but he's listed in the phone directory. Annie

Someone to clean our chimney

March 2004

We are looking for someone to clean our chimney. Does anyone have someone they can recommend? angie

We used ''Sweep clean, clean sweep chimney sweep'', about 2 years ago when we needed some work done on our chimney, and were very happy with the quality of work The owners name is George Spears. The number is 510-237-0624. Joe

In response to the person seeking a chimney sweep: I highly recommend Paul Goodacre of the Chelsea Chimney Co. Paul does sweeps, inspections, firebox rebuilding, seismic bracing, and so on. He's reasonably priced, reliable, clean, knowledgeable, and straightforward. - Liz

We just met with Mick of Berkely Chimneys. He was recommended to us by our neighbors that used him to put in a flu, sweep the chimney, and do some minor repairs. We need the same sort of work, so he gave us a (free) estimate, but we plan to use him for the work - liked him a lot. I know he generally charges around $100 for cleaning, depending on the size/condition of your chimney, but he'll come over and give you an estimate for free. You can reach him at 510-528-1002 rach

I had Master Sweep Chimney service come once in 1998 and once last month. They did a fine job although not necessarily outstanding. Our one-story house was $79. I think in 1998 I had a $20-off coupon from one of those Valpak-type mailers. 800-sweep31. David in Berkeley

2003 & Earlier Recommendations

Reviews for chimney cleaning & repair

Oct 2003

Paul Mickiewicz, 510-848-8893 is an honest and trustworthy chimney artisan. Friendly guy, too.

Dec 2002

We used The Irish Sweep just last week, which is recommended in the archives. There was a scheduling hassle -- the initial appointment had to be rescheduled when the Caldecott tunnel flooded in November (no fault of theirs, obviously), and the original reschedule was for a Saturday, since I'd taken off a weekday for the initial appointment and didn't want to lose any more work time. Then they rescheduled again (reasons not clear to me), for a weekday this time, which was a drag. But other than that, they were fine -- very prompt, and got the job done very quickly. They'll probably be booked up right now, though. L. C.

The Irish Sweep

updated 4/17/2006


My chimney needs a new liner. Because Irish Sweep comes so highly recommended by UCB parents I called them first. They wanted $95 to inspect the chimney plus $450 to make a video of the interior. This latter charge seems outrageous to me. I know the company is reputed to do good work, but at what cost? Has anyone had recent experience with them? Have their prices generally gone through the roof (so to speak) or is this an anomaly? Are there other options?

I called the Irish Sweep also recently for a fireplace cleaning and found them to be very expensive. We had used them about 7 years ago and really liked them, but this time we used H.Soot Esq. (510) 522-0783. They were recommended by our neighbor and found them to be reasonable and thorough. -Wendy

I need the expertise of someone beyond a chimney sweep. When I bought my house, the pre-purchase inspection revealed that the chimney above the roof line is unstable and should either be reinforced or replaced. I've let it go too long (2 years) and would like to have repairs made before the rainy season. Can anyone recommend individuals or companies who do this? The fireplace itself needs some repairs, too. Lorraine

The Irish Sweep does chimney and firebox repairs. They will do a very thorough visual inspection, using a camera to look at the inside of your chimney, and tell you what kind of shape your chimney is in and what they recommend you do to it to make it safe and bring it up to code. They are really very expert in evaluating chimneys and I highly recommend them. They also do all sorts of repair and have a contractor's license. Last fall they replaced the crumbling masonry in my chimney, rebuilt the firebox, installed all the various things that are required by law to bring it up to code. The woman who owns the company, Sally, did a lot of the work herself and it is plain she really likes her work and takes great pride in it. Ginger

Pendergrast Masonry, who we found in the yellow pages, came out to our house to do a chimney repair. The job ended up being something that was fixable in just a very short time, so they didn't charge us for this! So I think that speaks quite well of the company. Their # is 510 562-6400. Glenn


I used The Irish Sweep for fireplace inspection help and for repair last year. I was VERY pleased with their work and service, and besides, we have to support those woman-owned businesses. Their prices were fair and they were honest. Actually, I received a $2,000 quote from another person for needed work that The Irish Sweep felt was unnecessary, and so far, they have been right!!! (Whew). Jennifer

We've used Sally, The Irish Sweep a couple of times for chimney maintenance as well as to install a wood stove. She was recommended to us by the managers of a store that sells wood stoves. She's very prompt, personable and professional and we were very happy with her service. We also like to patronize women-owned businesses when we can. The only complaint we have is that she tends to be very booked up. Depending on the specific situation, it's likely you might need to go elsewhere if you want something done in the next few weeks (although she may be more flexible if it requires immediate attention). Cindy

We recently used Irish Sweep to sweep and inspect our chimneys. We feel they did an adequate job sweeping but were dissatisfied with their inspection. In fact they came 3 times and told us 3 different things. They did not offer a written report until the 3rd time, then they charged us for a video service which we did not authorize/request. We had used them a long time ago and liked them but given the choice now, I'd look for another service.

Enzo, from Irish Sweeps is fast, efficient, polite, interesting, and so nice I was disappointed when he said I didn't need to call him again for 3 years. Irish Sweeps got here on little notice, and did an excellent job. I'm sure someone else is good too, but I will call Irish Sweeps next time.

The Irish Sweep is booked until January, so I've got an appointment with Chimney King. Does anyone have any experience with this company? Thanks! Patty

From: Kathryn

I would like a referral for a reliable and reasonable chimney sweep. We had an appointment 2 weeks in a row with Chimney King and they failed to show up both times. I will not waste my time with them again. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

From: Ken

We were very happy with Clive's Fireplace Service, 428 0533. Mr. Clive was great! Disclaimer: I haven't used Clive in over five years, and can't even be certain that he's still in business! We stopped making fires completely when our first daughter was born four years ago. We won't use our fireplaces again until our younger daughter is old enough to know that they can be dangerous.

From: Colin

A few years ago I used The Irish Sweep. They showed up on time and were thorough and neat. I had no complaints. I don't remember how their prices compared to others. Melody

From: Fran

Re: chimney sweeps: I recommend The Irish Sweep. They were recommended by a house inspector we had, and we've called them for things related to chimney construction (vents, spark arrestors) as well as cleaning.

From: BarbaraK

I recently used the Irish Sweep for the first time and was very impressed with them.

From: Kathy

We used The Irish Sweep about 2 years ago. A very professional woman (I assumed she was the owner) and an assistant. Several of my neighbors had used her service and were also pleased.

Repair broken fireplace damper?

Our fireplace damper won't close any more (it''s stuck in open position). and our cold old (1945) house is even colder. We stuff the chimney with newspapers in between rare fires. Has anyone tried a chimney-top damper? Does it help keep the house warm? Looks like they cost about $150 + labor. How much WITH labor? Any recommendations for someone to put one in?

We had our old damper (1936, didn't close) cut out and replaced with a chimney-top damper by The Irish Sweep. They did a fine job. It was over 10 years ago so I don't recall what it cost. We didn't notice our house being warmer--our living room has a very high ceiling so even if the heat stayed in, it wouldn't stay where we are. We've found vertical blinds (over the windows) to be effective for keeping the heat in. -Fran

A friend of mine just bought a house that doesn't have a damper at all. She is going to have a face plate made for the opening of the fireplace. Her idea is to use a hardwood, carved or painted, and designed for the specifics of her particular mantle. Josh

We had the same problem a couple of years ago with our fireplace and my husband bought the parts and put in a chimney top damper. According to him it was very easy to install and it took about an hour to complete the project. It required unscrewing the spark arrester on top of the chimney, applying some sealing goop (comes with the damper)and then dropping the chain down the chimney, placing the new damper on top of the goop and then replacing the spark arrester. For the actual fire place, you need a drill and masonry bit to attach the bracket that opens and closes the damper. All these instructions come with the kit. We only light fires in the fireplace once or twice a year so can only comment on light use, but we've been very pleased with the results. Good luck. -CJ