Are You Getting Ripped Off?

A very sad reality the chimney industry deals with is the existence of bait-and-switch con artists who are trying to rip you off. They usually show up or call quoting a $40 sweep and end up quoting thousands of dollars after they “find” problems with the customer’s chimney. When they “reline” the chimney to fix the problem, a lot of times they only stick a short stub of a liner in the top to make it appear the repair has been performed. In reality, all they’ve done is take thousands of dollars of the victims money.

Here is a great article on the subject.

For someone not in the industry, I think the folks at the above link have done pretty well. Just a couple corrections in my opinion:

  • I would probably panic if my chimney had 1/4 inch of creosote built up. The standard I’m familiar with is 1/8 inch.
  • Their three levels of inspection aren’t quite accurate, but close enough I suppose.
  • Carbon monoxide is rare, but possible in wood flues, but it is a very real danger in oil flues.

Common sense can be your very best tool to protect yourself from these scams.

  • If it sounds too good to be true….. The article is pretty spot on with their pricing info. With fuel, vehicle maintenance, insurance etc $40 doesn’t nearly cover expenses.
  • Make sure the sweep is CSIA certified. These sweeps are reputable and have had to do a lot of training and passed some very difficult tests. Scam artists don’t do this.
  • Ask for references.
  • Be suspicious if they are from out of state. A lot of these scams are done by companies who have to travel quite a long ways to get to a place they are not known.

If you find yourself in this situation call the police and have them make a report so the company’s name is on file.
A lot of people do indeed have issues with their flue which need attention, but the practice of a lot of sweeps is not to give quotes until an inspection and report have been done. This report will have photos and usually a video scan of the flue has been done. Then a quote is issued to the customer. If you are looking at expensive repairs, get multiple estimates with details on what each includes. Then you can weigh cost versus service and parts received and make a decision.

So folks, keep an eye out and if something doesn’t feel right call someone. Have a great day!