10 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Chimney Sweep
If you ever get a phone call with an offer to clean your chimney at a huge discount, beware! There are scam artists in the upper Midwest posing as qualified chimney sweeps. Their goal is to accept your money as payment for work they have no skills to perform. Many times, dishonest people will claim that expensive chimney repairs are required immediately, for safety’s sake. Then they take your money and run. It’s best to choose a chimney sweep carefully, to ensure that you are hiring qualified professionals. After all, if the work isn’t performed correctly, your chimney could become a fire hazard.
The following information can help you choose a reliable chimney sweep company worthy of your trust:
1-Chimney Sweeping is an Unregulated Industry
In spite of the fact that chimney safety can be a life-or-death issue, the chimney sweep industry is unregulated. Anyone can legally start up a chimney sweep company, and the business owner isn’t even required to have the tools or training needed to do a proper job of cleaning chimneys. The good news is that licenses and certifications from nationally recognized associations can provide evidence of a company’s and an individual’s professional qualifications to perform the work with skill and excellence.
2-Check for Membership with NCGS & NFI
Membership in the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and National Fireplace Institute (NFI) provides evidence of an interest in expertise and professionalism in performing chimney, fireplace, and stove related services. While a membership with NCSG is not a certification, it demonstrates that the company has the information needed to be on the cutting edge of the chimney sweep industry, which includes awareness about the latest technologies in masonry repair,
chimney sweeping, and every facet of the industry.
3-Check for an Individual’s NFI Certification
The minimum nationally recognized standard for a professional chimney sweep is attained through the Chimney Sweep Institute of America (NFI) with NFI certifications being a more advanced set of certifications in the study of wood, gas and pellet burning appliances. Ask for proof that individuals are NFI and or NFI certified, before allowing them to work on your chimney. Some chimney sweep company owners are certified, but they send out technicians who have not earned the certification which signifies that the person is knowledgeable about the proper repair, cleaning, use, and maintenance of fireplaces, wood stoves, and other fuel-burning appliances.
4- Check a Chimney Sweep’s Identification
Be careful to verify that the person who comes to your door to work on your chimney is with the company you hired. Ask to see the person’s identification. Most reputable chimney sweep companies have I.D. badges or uniforms which display the company’s name. Also check the vehicle for company identification. Hiring a solicitor who goes door-to-door seeking clients for chimney services can be very risky.
5-Verify Insurance Coverage
Another good test of whether a chimney sweep company has experience and longevity in the industry is if they have liability insurance coverage. A chimney sweep company with insurance can protect you against damages which could occur during the technician’s visit. It’s unlikely that some type of damage or injury will occur; but if the company isn’t covered by insurance, you’ll be responsible for the damages.
You can go online and search for customer reviews of a company you consider hiring. Ask the company for references from Northwest Illinois, Northeast Iowa, or Southwest Wisconsin. Find out whether customers have been satisfied with the company’s work. If a company can’t or won’t provide you with references, do not hire them.
7-Hiring the Right Chimney Sweep is a Safety Issue
It can be tempting to go with chimney sweep services that are offered at very low prices, but it’s important to weigh the cost against the confidence that the work performed meets professional industry standards. When a chimney is not properly cleaned, inspected, or repaired, it can become a fire hazard and could even expose occupants of the household to toxic fumes, such as deadly carbon monoxide.
8-Expect Prompt Service
One mark of a professional chimney sweep company is the commitment to work within a set time frame and to call if running a bit late. Your time is valuable and should be respected. Don’t give your business to a company that doesn’t offer a definite time frame for arriving at your home to perform chimney services.
Reputable chimney professionals usually wear identifying company uniforms. NFI certified chimney sweeps will treat you and your home with respect. There should be no mess left behind when the work is completed, and the technician should be helpful and willing to answer your questions about your venting system, fireplace, chimney services, and more.
10-Be Alert to Telephone Scams
As mentioned previously, telephone scams targeting homeowners with fireplaces are widespread. In some instances, telemarketers entice consumers with incredibly low prices and sell the leads to under-qualified independent contractors who rush to make as many service calls in a day as possible. In addition, to allow a stranger into your home based on a telephone call can expose you to criminal activity, including slick scammers who win your confidence but then accept your money and then fail to perform the work.
An annual chimney cleaning is the best way to ensure that your chimney system is safe to use. Give us a call for chimney services if you live in SW Wisconsin, NW Illinois, or NE Iowa. We meet all of the above-mentioned guidelines for choosing the best chimney sweep company.
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