September is here, and so are the con men and scammers who pretend to want to help you but only end up taking your money. A few years ago a large scam swept through most of the northeast. These guys would just happen to be in the neighborhood and see that your chimney needed immediate work. They claimed to be professionals, so you felt you should trust them, right? Today I’m going to go over some facts about how chimney sweeps work and don’t work to help protect you and your chimney from scammers and con men.
Professional Chimney Sweeps Don’t Go Door to Door
We aren’t in the business of selling Girl Scout Cookies (No offense intended to Girl Scouts, I love cookies!) or trying to convince you to give to a local charity. Professional chimney sweeps are business oriented men and women who operate a services-style business. We offer our expertise and services to homeowners who need them, but we aren’t going to go door to door peddling our wares so to speak.
I personally wait for clients to call me with their chimney problems. I keep a cell phone on me for emergency situations, and respond to those as quickly as possible. Otherwise, I schedule consultations, cleanings, and inspections in advance so that the homeowner knows when I will be arriving as they have requested my services.
Don’t Accept Same-Day Service Guarantees
Same-day service guarantees are generally a way to get your money and get out of town quickly. I’m not saying every chimney sweep who offers them is going to scam you out of your hard-earned cash, but it’s rare for any chimney sweep to offer same-day services.
I rarely consult and complete a job in a single visit; that just isn’t how it’s done. The consultation is just that. I visit your home, and check out the chimney and fireplace to get an idea of the scope of the job ahead. Cleaning and inspecting take time, and I will not sacrifice the quality of my work simply to jump from one job to another quickly.
Ask to See Credentials
Licenses, certifications, and referrals are extremely important when hiring any type of service for your home, including electrical, plumbing, and chimney sweeps, of course. Ask friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues for referrals and make a list. Call each one to discuss their processes, and ask them to see their website. Most professionals who are serious about their career have a company website and keep it updated with important information.
Schedule Ahead of Time
Once you find the chimney sweep you’re going to work with, schedule cleanings and inspections well in advance so you don’t get caught in the fall busy season. We get very busy just before cooler weather sets in, so try to schedule your cleaning and inspection during the summer months if possible.