Unfortunately the chimney sweep business has gotten a bad reputation in the last few years due in part to small time contractors knowing most of their clients aren’t up on the roof looking down their chimney. Hiring a professional and honest chimney sweep has become a challenge for many homeowners.
Here is an excerpt from a popular Angie’s List article that I found interesting:
Chimney cleaning and repair scammers tend to follow the patterns of those in other home improvement industries, luring homeowners via phone solicitations, door-to-door sales pitches or ads offering too-good-to-be-true prices and preying on fear and lack of knowledge to score quick sales. Once they get a foot in the door, they may claim costly repairs or products are needed immediately to prevent serious problems like carbon monoxide leaks or chimney fires. Some encounters don’t turn out as well as Talaszek’s. Click here to view full article
Along with the steps outlined in this article, there are a few more that I would like to bring to your attention. First, avoid hiring the lowest cost chimney sweep you see. An average cost for a proper cleaning and inspection is around $150 from a reputable chimney sweep. Remember, you pay for what you get, if you pay for the $29.95 chimney cleaning, you will definitely get that type of service. Also be leery of a company that is offering you a free inspection. Any honest chimney sweep is charging for this service, many times a company is offering this for free because they are trying to sell you their bigger package or services you don’t need. Many times these companies will use scare tactics to force you into an immediate buying decision. Inspections are different than estimates, most if not all companies offer free estimates.
Second, avoid companies that call you or say they work with PSE&G, the local fire department, or claim they used to service this house in the past for the previous homeowner. Frequently, these are the companies with all the equipment on their trucks to do a chimney relining on the spot. Never buy into this same day service. In order to do a chimney relining a company must secure permits from your town. When relining, it is extremely important that the company doing the repair takes the time to do the proper measurements of your chimney as well as take into account the requirements of your appliance(s). Relining your chimney with inadequate measurements can be dangerous to your home and your family.
Following these tips will greatly help in reducing your chances of being ripped off by the unethical business practices that have become all too common within our industry. If you feel you have been taken advantage of by a company like this, report them to your local department of consumer affairs, better business bureau, local media or even the authorities.