Watch out for chimney scams
Scheduling a chimney inspection and sweep should be an item on your fall home checklist. As the weather changes, you may notice more contractors soliciting door-to-door. As with any other home improvement service, there are companies looking to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.
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
- 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
Angie’s List tips to avoid chimney scams:
1. Get multiple estimates: As with hiring any contractor, it’s best to receive multiple quotes before proceeding with work. The average chimney cleaning and inspection cost around $150 – the price for a video inspection and sweep will be closer to $200. Be wary of upfront prices that seem to be good to be true, and don’t let contractors pressure you into snap decisions.
2. Check the contractor’s credentials: Certification by the Chimney Institute of America (CSIA) means they have gone through training in fire safety, and adhere to a professional standard of ethics. Also, check to see if your state requires a license for chimney sweeping.
3. Insured and bonded? It’s important to check that the company has insurance before you hire. Insurance protects your home and furnishings.
4. Scope out a snapshot: If a contractor recommends expensive repairs, they should be able to provide photo or video images of the problems. Make sure the images are actually of your home and be wary of anyone who pressures you to act immediately.
You can avoid a chimney fiasco by using Angie’s List to find a highly rated chimney repair service in your town. Angie’s List collects trusted consumer reviews on chimney repair companies as well as more than 500 categories of service professionals.