Chimney scams are very prevalent during the early winter months, especially after the first couple of cold snaps when people really want to use their fireplaces. A scam isn’t always straightforward and easy to spot. Scam artists are very good at their jobs and will use their charisma to convince you to schedule an appointment with them. Once they’re on your property with promises of super-low-cost chimney services, they tend to find several other things that are wrong with your chimney or one of its components. Here’s how to spot a chimney cleaning scam artist.
- Door to Door – A scam artist may call you on the phone or knock on your door randomly one day to let you know that they saw something dangerous with your chimney. They’ll probably insist that you allow them to take a look. Chimney sweeps are not door to door salesmen and we don’t sit on the phone to drum up business. The winter months are our busiest due to the nature of our business, so we are not sitting in the office calling people out of the blue.
- Too Good to be True – Discount services are great, right? We offer 20% off during certain times of the year. We enjoy offering discounts around Father’s Day and other important days for dad because that’s good business. We never offer services starting at $34.99 or even $94.99.
- Problem after Problem – A scam artist may come to you with a list of up to 10 things they’ve found wrong with your chimney. They may mention that the spark arrester is damaged and should be replaced. Most homeowners don’t know that a spark arrester is nothing more than their chimney cap. So when the chimney cap doesn’t get replaced, it’s no big deal, because the spark arrester was the problem.
- Expressing Urgency – Yes, legitimate chimney problems should be dealt with quickly and efficiently. But don’t let someone jump into work on the spot. Tell them you would like to get a second opinion. This should be no big deal at all; you’d ask for a second opinion for a medical issue if you’re not sure the doctor is correct, right?
- No Real Proof – A scam artist may come to you with soot covered crumbly concrete pieces, a small dead animal, or soot covered leaves and debris. This is supposed to be proof of something wrong within your chimney. They may even show you a video from the interior of the chimney; but this video isn’t likely your chimney. Request concrete proof and ask to see how the CCTV camera system works in real time to compare your damage to the damage in the video.
Visit the About section of our website and watch the video from NBC 10 News. I was featured as a chimney expert and briefly addressed chimney scams. 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.