Learn to Spot the Four Most-Common Chimney Scams before You Hire a Sweep
Chimney Safety Institute of America warning comes during
National Chimney Safety Week
INDIANAPOLIS, September 27, 2012 – As winter approaches, so do scam artists trying to take your money for chimney cleaning services they are not trained to provide, warns the nonprofit Chimney Safety Institute of America. National Chimney Safety Week, Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, is a great time to learn how to avoid falling prey to the four most popular chimney scams.
• Pricing tricks: Rates for chimney cleaning can certainly vary from region to region and job to job. But as a rule, a basic Level 1 chimney inspection and sweeping should cost no more than $300. Anyone offering an “unbelievably-low-price special” may be trying to make a quick buck rather than provide the full range of services needed to ensure your chimney is safe.
• “Emergency” repairs: Scammers will often attempt to prey on your lack of expertise and stoke your fear with claims that specific, extensive repairs must be made immediately to keep your family safe. Collect at least three estimates (with documentation) before you make a decision about big-ticket repairs.
• Falsified experience: For the boldest scam artists, it’s not enough to mislead about the nature of the work they’ll perform. Some will lie about their industry experience and affiliations, too. Secure references, contact your local Better Business Bureau or state consumer protection office for background information, and do research to find out how long a company has been in the community.
• Faked credentials: A CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® has earned the industry's most respected credential by passing rigorous exams on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems and have agreed to abide by CSIA’s strict Code of Ethics. With a 30 year history of being the symbol of industry excellence, scammers could attempt to misuse CSIA’s credential trademark given its status. Each CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep carries a photo ID marked with his or her individual CSIA credential, so ask to see it.
In addition, companies using the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep trademark must have at least one CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep on jobsite, even on an inspection. Confirm with your service company that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will be a part of the team performing your work.
For more information about chimney and venting safety or to locate a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, visit www.csia.org/search.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to chimney and venting system safety. CSIA is committed to the elimination of residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney-related hazards that result in the loss of lives and property. To achieve these goals, CSIA devotes its resources to educating the public, chimney and venting professionals and other fire prevention specialists about the prevention and correction of chimney and venting system hazards.