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BBB Advises: Don’t Get Smoked Out by a Chimney Sweep Scam this Winter

With the chilly weather here, many consumers are yearning for a toasty fire by the fireplace and looking to have their chimneys cleaned in preparation. However, the Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to know which businesses to trust and which to avoid so their hard earned dollars don’t go up in smoke.
 
Chimney sweeping is not something that homeowners deal with often, so we may lack knowledge of the cleaning process. Many scammers take full advantage of this and do shoddy work…or no work at all. Many scam artists are targeting the elderly, making vague, unclear phone calls or showing up at their door claiming they have done business in the past and it is time for their annual sweep.

Some less than reputable companies will advertise at a much lower price than legitimate businesses. Typically, a professional chimney sweep will charge between $100 and $250 for the cleaning of one chimney shaft. Scammers may charge significantly less. Some may use the low price quote as a way of getting in the door and then telling you much more work is needed at much higher costs, others may see this as an easy way to make quick money and never perform the promised work or do a subpar job.

BBB urges consumers to remember that if a price sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Get quotes from a handful of businesses, if you are quoted a price significantly lower than most; it may be a red flag.

BBB suggests consumers do their homework before hiring a chimney sweep and inviting them into the home.

BBB recommends using these helpful tips when hiring a chimney sweep:

Check out a chimney sweeping business at bbb.org. Always check with BBB for a trusted chimney sweeping business in your area. Do they have any outstanding complaints? Have those complaints been resolved? Remember, most companies will eventually get complaints; it is how the company handles those complaints that is important.

Find out how long they have been in business. How long have they operated in your area? Find out if they offer current references, or if you know anyone who has used their services in the past.

Ask if they have a valid business license and liability insurance. In the event of an accident, their liability insurance keeps your home and belongings safe. Ask to see proof.

Find out if any employees are certified and by whom. Though this is not law, it is recommended by fire departments, and speaks to the qualifications of the individual or business you hire. Certification is required of members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (www.ncsg.org).

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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