The chimney care industry is not immune to scammers infiltrating its ranks. It makes sense – many homeowners (understandably) aren’t well-versed on the ins and outs of their chimney systems. Additionally, some parts of a chimney aren’t readily accessible without the right tools and, even then, you need a certain knowledge base to understand what you’re seeing. This makes it challenging to tell if the work someone was hired for was completed properly – or at all.
At the same time, professional chimney sweeping, inspections, and maintenance are critical for a number of reasons. Left untended or improperly tended, minor issues can become serious, compromising your chimney system, damaging surrounding walls or ceilings, and becoming increasingly costly to fix. There are also safety factors involved. Your chimney needs to vent gases and smoke out of your living area, or they can become a danger to your family. Creosote and soot left to accumulate dramatically increase the risk of chimney fire.
Fortunately, there are many reliable, competent chimney industry professionals available. With a little vigilance and research, you can avoid scams and find a qualified pro to partner with you in caring for this important home system.
What Can Chimney Scams Look Like?
There are a number of scams out there, but they tend to have some traits in common.
- The service person from nowhere. You didn’t hire anyone, but there’s a person at your door claiming they’re a chimney professional. Or maybe a person on the phone is offering you a great deal on an inspection. Even if someone offers you a discount for a service on the spot, resist the urge to act before you research the company to make sure it’s legitimate.
- The uncredentialed “pro.” Speaking of research, what you’re really looking for is credentials. What do we mean by credentials? Simply put, evidence that a person has the competence and qualifications needed to do what they say they can. A legitimate business person should be more than happy to back up their claims. A person can say they know what they’re doing… but if they don’t, they can end up doing more harm than good. And you may not find that out until issues have become exacerbated.
- The absentee technician. You got a deeply discounted inspection, but it turned up issues. So you paid a hefty deposit to secure a future appointment to have them addressed – perhaps even paying for the future repairs in full – but the technician never showed up. While a downpayment isn’t unheard of, be cautious about handing over money for future work.
- The fear monger. You know there are serious risks associated with blocked or deteriorating chimney systems – and so do scammers. If a service provider is preying on your fear and putting heavy pressure on you to act immediately, take a step back. Yes, a chimney profession will be concerned about your safety. But high pressure techniques likely mean a scammer doesn’t want to give you the head space to consider the situation, research typical costs, or get an additional quote or opinion.
- The deepening problem. The initial costs seemed reasonable, but suddenly there are more and more hidden costs and repairs needed. While a pro may find legitimate maintenance needs, don’t be shy about asking for evidence of what you’re being told is needed. Also, be sure to research price points of the services required. Be extra skeptical if the “sweep” happens to have the chimney liner you need in his truck – not all chimney components are one-size-fits-all!
How Can I Hire a Reputable Chimney Pro?
First, take note of any immediately apparent red flags. No brick-and-mortar work address? Unmarked service vehicles? Employees with no identification? Probably best to steer clear! Be mindful that suspiciously low prices are just that – suspicious, and potentially a baiting scheme. Checking a company’s website, flyers, and other materials for professional presentation is a good idea as well. A legit company will give signs of being well-established that are evident in their communications.
Next, do your digging. Remember that qualifications are key. Again, a legitimate professional will be happy to provide evidence of these. Certifications through nonprofit industry institutes and memberships in professional associations demonstrate that a company is concerned about ongoing education, professional ethics, and proven skill. This is why we hold qualifications or memberships with the National Fireplace Institute (NFI), National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), and Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).
Equally important is making sure your service provider is fully licensed and insured for the region in which they’re working. This shows that they’re taking the steps necessary to protect you and your property.
Finally, take the time to check out reviews from past and current customers. With sites like Angi and the BBB, this information should be readily available. Do they have a well-established reputation for skill, knowledge, follow-through, and approachability? Do they operate with professionalism and integrity? Client interactions over time should reveal patterns.
Our Techs Are Knowledgeable, Certified & Have High Standards
At Dunrite, we’re certified, take training seriously, and always put the needs of our customers first and foremost. Give us a call at 631-738-0005 or reach out to us online to get your next chimney service booked. We’ve got your back.