It is chimney cleaning season, which means it’s also chimney scam season. This is the time of year that I like to warn people of the dangers of chimney scams because I hate to see good people taken advantage of. The reason fake chimney sweeps make so much money for doing nothing is because most people aren’t familiar enough with their chimney. For example, when someone does your dry cleaning or details your car, you can look at the item and see that it is in good repair and looks amazing. That person knew what they were doing and you knew what your clothing or vehicle should look like. Unfortunately this isn’t the case with chimneys. Most people haven’t looked through their chimney, so they don’t really know how dirty or damaged it is… or isn’t.
A Few Ways to Spot a Scam
A Knock at the Door – Chimney sweeps aren’t door-to-door salesmen. We don’t generally knock on your door to let you know that we noticed your chimney was dirty… from the curb. We won’t know how dirty the chimney is until we get onto the roof and inspect it.
Increasing Costs – Scam artists will continually find things to add onto the invoice. It may start with the repair of a few bricks, then replacing something, and then cleaning something. We will perform a full inspection and write up a quote before anything else is done.
No Explanations – Scam artists won’t likely be able to tell you in detail what’s going on with your chimney; or if they do, it will sound worse than it actually is. We will be honest from the very beginning. We will also show you and educate you on what to look for in terms of damage, creosote, and other chimney basics that we feel every homeowner should know.
No Paperwork – Always ask to see a business license or certification paperwork. Request a list of references so you can call and make sure everything is on the up and up. An honest chimney sweep will be able to show you proof of their accomplishments because we’re proud of our achievements.
No Brush Marks – You won’t always see a big difference in the flue after a cleaning, but you should see brush marks anyway. To the untrained eye, creosote looks a little bubbly or spongy, and black. A clean flue will still look black. But you should be able to see brush marks where the brush has cleaned layers of creosote away from the lining.
I was featured as a chimney expert on NBC 10 News a couple of years ago during a period of time when chimney sweep and repair scams were pretty rampant. Check out the interview and tips on my home page in the About section. Don’t trust just any chimney sweep with your chimney services. Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is located in Drexel Hill and we provide all types of chimney services throughout the Main Line. Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.