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Beware of chimney scams

The weather is cooling down and to be safe, you may be considering having your chimney inspected. But just like with other home repairs, scammers are looking to make a quick dollar at your expense. Here's some advice to protect your home and your wallet.

According to Angie's List, lots of people fail to have their chimneys inspected on a yearly basis and that could be risky. But just as risky, is falling for a high pressured door-to-door or telephone sales pitch that promises an extremely low fee.

Angie Hicks of Angie's List says get multiple estimates before you have any work done. "The average chimney cleaning and inspection cost about $150. And don't be fooled by prices that sound too good to be true," she says.

A sure sign that your chimney is overdue for a cleaning, is the presence of a strong odor. But there are other issues that may also require attention.

Dave Clift is a chimney sweep contractor. "Most of the common chimney repairs that you have are mostly on masonry chimneys. On the side of the fire box, the mortar joints start to wear away and those will need to be re-tuck pointed. That's a repair that you may have to do depending on the use of the fireplace maybe every 5-7 years," he says.

With traditional or factory built fireplaces, the problem may be light cracks. Be sure to keep an eye on these, if they get bad enough, you'll need to replace the rear wall. Whatever the case, be sure to do your homework. Ask for references and check out the chimney sweeper, before you let them check out your chimney.

You should ask for the contractor's CSIA certification. That's the Chimney Safety Institute of America. That group makes sure contractors have gone through proper training and adheres to safety standards.


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