You’ve probably seen the stories in the news about transient contractors who follow the weather and natural disasters. They swoop in promising fast, affordable repairs only to do shoddy work at best, if they show back up at all. Along with such contractors are chimney sweeps. These people may or may not be from your area. They very well could be lawn care “experts” in the summer, snow removal “professionals” in the winter and chimney sweeps in the fall.
The point is… like other professionals you hire to perform important work on your home, don’t hire the first one to knock on your door. Unless experienced and certified, a chimney sweep can do more damage than good, putting your home and family at risk.
Now that it’s fall in Kansas City, that means chimney sweep scam season is in full swing. Here’s what you need to know to avoid scams and get your chimney in perfect condition for the upcoming cold weather.
5 Signs It’s a Chimney Sweep Scam
Chimney sweep scams are similar to other home improvement scams. Here are the most common tactics:
- The scam artist has an aggressive door-to-door sales pitch. Human nature is to avoid confrontation.
- The fake chimney sweeper makes a strong pitch, combined with a price that is too good to be true and only valid at the moment.
- If the homeowner doesn’t immediately bite, the scammer will probably throw in a few scarce words like carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires. This part may be true, but only when evaluations and services are done by experts can homeowners truly protect their homes and themselves.
- More successful scammers will mention the local gas company’s name to sound more legit.
- A chimney sweep scammer, if desperate at this point, might offer to inspect your chimney right on the spot and either lie about the magnitude of an issue or make one up.
Knowledge is Power
Scam artists are effective because they take advantage of homeowners not knowing and/or understanding everything involved with chimney inspections and service. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends an annual evaluation of all chimneys, fireplaces and vents for the following reasons:
- Assure chimney integrity for all fuels: oil, gas, wood or coal
- Check for injuries and voids that may allow exhaust into the home
- Catch problems before they cause expensive trouble
- Note flammable creosote which builds up on the walls of the chimney with use and recommend appropriate cleaning method
- Alert you to evidence of water penetration. Rainwater penetration damage is a major cause of chimney deterioration
- Provide peace of mind
Unless you are familiar with chimney inspections and service, plus have the tools and equipment for the job, it’s smart to hire a professional, in this case, a certified chimney sweep. Certified experts are trained to spot wear and tear, cracking and chipping in masonry and brick chimneys that requires repair. Also, creosote can build up and requires removing. And, animals can block the flue with nests, and weather can cause damage that leads to water seepage.
Hire a Certified Chimney Sweep Technician for Peace of Mind
Legitimate chimney sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and know all the techniques necessary for inspecting a chimney. Certifications act as a seal of approval of expertise. Complete Home Concepts’ chimney sweeps are certified and provide a variety of chimney sweep service levels, depending on your needs.
Primarily, we use Chim-Scan video inspection equipment to inspect fireplace flues. A monitor is set up in the living area next to the fireplace and a camera system is sent up the chimney’s flue to check for gaps, cracks, voids or other abnormalities. On the monitor, you can see the interior of the chimney flue as the camera goes up the chimney. If service or repair is necessary, you’ll be able to see exactly where and why.
Schedule your annual chimney inspection with a company you can trust. Contact us today.