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You want your chimney to be clean and safe so that you can enjoy using your fireplace with peace of mind. And you likely know that achieving this requires partnering with a reputable chimney professional who can provide annual inspections, remove blockages, and help you recognize and stay ahead of issues that can otherwise escalate. What you may also know is that in all industries, the chimney industry included, fraudulent practices can unfortunately take root. 

Common Chimney Industry Scams

So how do you know when you can trust a chimney professional? The key is having eyes open for spotting red flags – and conversely, signs of credibility.

the words "SCAM ALERT!" written on a yellow sticky noteThe Unbelievable Deal

This is a common tactic for less-than-reputable contractors to get their foot in the door. Can professionals offer deals? Of course. But if a service is priced deeply below industry norms, it’s probably because the person offering it has a plan to make a lot of money off you some other way.

Companies who use this tactic may surprise you with additional charges for services you didn’t know you signed up for – or may simply use it to introduce other fraudulent or heavy-handed techniques, such as the ones that follow.

The Catastrophic Discovery

The inspection is done, and the news is grim. Your chimney contractor claims you need extensive, costly repairs. While sometimes costly repairs are in needed for damaged chimneys, you should verify the damage and substantiate the price tag, especially if you’re working with a new contractor (or one who gained your business through an unbelievable deal).

Ask for evidence, such as photos or video of the problem that you know were obtained during the inspection. Request a written estimate that details expected charges. A reputable pro should be willing to answer your questions and provide this info, no problem.

When work required is considerable, take time to seek additional opinions from well qualified professionals. Be wary of a contractor who pressures you heavily – and be especially suspicious if he “just so happens” to have the component you need ready at hand on his truck and wants to do the costly repair immediately – most chimney components are not one-size-fits-all.

The Emergency 

Many scammers will play up urgency using fear tactics to pressure you into acting before you can verify their credentials or price points. Chimney safety is important – you know it, and so do scammers. But don’t agree to expensive repairs unless you’re sure they’re necessary. And don’t get pressured into working with someone whose credentials you have doubts about.

Be proactive about chimney care, yes. But don’t entrust it to someone whose main selling point is the fear they conjure by preying on your worries or using technical jargon to leave you feeling dazed. Always take the time to do a little research about the company and the repairs they say are needed.

The No-Show

Picture this: an alleged chimney sweep earned your trust in the initial inspection or sweeping, but claims there’s work to be done – and he’ll only give you a spot on his books if you pay in full now. While deposits aren’t unheard of, be very cautious about handing over large amounts of money for services that aren’t yet completed. It’s possible that a fraudster will take your money and run, leaving you with nothing to show for it.

The Under-Qualified Provider

If your chimney sweep technician isn’t qualified, you may end up with “repairs” that aren’t done well or that cause additional issues – meaning you’ve aggravated a problem rather than solved it. This can be amplified by the fact that you trust the work is complete, meaning real issues may be overlooked or worsening unbeknownst to you. Or, the unqualified sweep may be a scammer who claims work is done that simply wasn’t.

A legitimate chimney business will be able to provide evidence of their credentials, and their reviews and referrals should speak to their professionalism and experience.

How Can I Find a Reputable Chimney Company?

While scams exist, it’s definitely possible to find technicians you can trust. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Do your research.

Ask local friends and family who they’ve had good experiences working with in the past, or find a company that has a history of positive ratings and reviews from reliable sources such as the Better Business Bureau and Angi. Examine their website – does it appear professional and list information about their certifications and experience? A little research will go a long way in screening companies and helping the best options surface.

2. Ask for proof of credentials.

CSIA logoWhen you’ve identified a chimney company who appears good to work with, ask for proof of their credentials. Specifically, look for companies who are certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) or National Fireplace Institute (NFI). These nonprofit organizations only certify chimney technicians who pass extensive, recurrent testing and adhere to a high code of professional ethics, so certification with either is a testament to a business’s legitimacy, skill, and commitment to current industry knowledge.

As a matter of fact, these credentials are so valuable that we’ve invested ourselves in holding them with both the CSIA and the NFI. Additionally, membership in industry guilds and associations demonstrate meaningful involvement in the profession.

3. Look for professionalism.

Is the company friendly, able to answer your questions, and transparent about their processes and pricing? Is professionalism evident in the way they communicate with you, their punctuality, and overall demeanor? Do they have a brick-and-mortar location and employees with identification, such as company logos on trucks, badges, or company apparel? While some of these are intangibles, we usually recognize professionalism when we experience it, so if something feels “off,” don’t ignore it.

We’ve Got Your Back

Chimney scams are out there. But so are providers who serve excellently. As a reliable chimney service company that seeks the well-being of our client base, we want to make sure you’re educated and feel confident in the service you receive. So when looking for a pro, be sure to do your research and end up with someone you can trust!

Want to check in touch with our techs? Call (970) 234-3330 or book online with us today.