Home Buyers Beware of Potential Chimney Problems: Inspect Before You Buy

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Home buyers are in a unique position. They may choose to hire a home inspector to ensure the structural integrity of a home before they even purchase it. A well-done home inspection will consist of several pages of handwritten notes in an easy to read format. One area of the home that you won’t see much about is the chimney. Home inspectors examine every area and part of the home that they have access to but they aren’t required to get on the roof to inspect the interior of the flue. That’s where you would need to call someone like me; a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.

Don’t Trust Free Inspections

In your anticipation to find a reliable chimney sweep, you may call every number you find online or pinned to local bulletin boards with 25 other business cards and ads for roommates or free pets. A free chimney inspection isn’t going to be done by a CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) Certified Chimney Sweep.

The chimney is more than a nice looking accessory attached to your home. It’s a functional appliance that deals with the removal of toxic gases and smoke from your home. Many scam artists and conmen travel the Northeast in search of homes with chimneys so that they can just happen to stop by because they noticed a problem with your chimney and would only charge you $9,000 to fix it when the actual cost for repairs would be much lower if they were needed at all.

Don’t Fall for Chimney Scams

I’ve written about chimney scams in the past, but I honestly feel that one can never be too safe or too prepared when dealing with con men. Please review these important steps to further protect you from scammers. Here’s a fun, educational post from September regarding Chimney Sweep Scam Season.

Ask for Licensing and Credentials

If someone just shows up at your door offering chimney services, ask to see their credentials. Don’t allow them to climb onto your roof or inspect your fireplace or chimney under any circumstances. Certified Chimney Sweeps are generally busy people, and we do not go door to door to drum up business like a 1950s salesman.

Your request to see credentials may be answered with a reassurance that the person standing before you is licensed, and you may be informed that it is absolutely urgent that your chimney problem be addressed immediately. I repeat; do not allow this person access to your chimney without seeing credentials first. No credentials, no service. Even if you are presented with a license number, go online or call the CSIA to ensure that the license is valid and up to date.

You can quickly and easily go to the CSIA website at www.csia.org and click Homeowners in the main navigation bar, and then click the Locate a CSIA Certified Professional button on the right. Narrow your search by typing your city name, checking the box by your state’s abbreviations, and click the Search button. A list of CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps will be displayed fairly quickly.

Do some research before you purchase a home or invite someone to your home with hopes of receiving a free chimney inspection. Don’t settle for the first quote you hear, and don’t allow a traveling chimney sweep access to your fireplace or chimney. Ask around, your friends, family, and colleagues are great sources of information when it comes to home maintenance and chimney inspection.

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