Why I’m CSIA Certified: 30 years with Joe Kotlik

This is a Q&A with Joe Kotlik, a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep from Virginia Beach, VA who celebrates his 30th anniversary this month holding the CCS credential, the industry standard. Joe started in 1983 as “a young man looking for a chance to do something different.” Chimney sweeping was it. He worked almost three decades for Magic Sweep Corporation out of Chesapeake, VA before forming his own company, Chimney Checkers. 

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Joe at work in 2012. Photo credit: Hamptonroads.com

Q: What got you into the chimney sweeping industry?

A: The job sounded interesting, never in one place too long, outside in the fresh air and no time-clock to punch. Starting out was tough, pay was low and training was almost nonexistent. There seemed no end to the things you needed to know and really needed to educate the homeowner about. At that time there was not a lot of technical education out there for the industry at large, everyone was learning as we went along.

Q: What led you to get CSIA certified in 1984? And why do you keep renewing your CCS credential?

A: The CSIA and certification was the best thing that could have happened for the industry and consumers. Knowledge is power! Being certified and maintaining your certification shows commitment to a standard of excellence that all service professionals should strive towards.

Q: You believe chimney sweeping should be a year-round occupation. Why is that? 

A: Professional chimney service technicians should be just that … If you do not take it seriously how can anyone take you serious. Not to say getting started or filling in slow times is a bad thing, but time that could be spent honing your craft and skills with education.

  • Live in the Virginia Beach, VA area and want to hire Joe? Check out his profile on csia.org’s website page for certified chimney sweeps.

Q: What else is on your mind about the industry?

A: As a service professional community we should work to better ourselves and our image.

“You have to be a good listener with the customer. You have to ask them questions. Are you having any problems? How often do you use it? And listen to what they tell you, and you may diagnose a problem before you even get in the chimney. People are depending on you to make sure their fireplace is safe to use, and that’s the main thing. Anybody can clean a chimney. But not everybody can tell you what’s wrong with it.”

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Pictured: Photos from Joe’s website at Chimney Checkers.

Thanks, Joe, and congratulations on your 30th anniversary!

Want to join 1,400 credentialed and certified chimney sweeps? Learn how to earn your CCS credential on our website and what the costs are. Want to renew your credential? Click here to visit that page.


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