What’s the chimney sweep scam? Here’s how the scam usually begins:
Someone rings your doorbell or calls you and says some version of:
“Hello, my name is Joe. I see on our records it’s been 2 years since we cleaned your chimney. We will be in your area on Tuesday, would you like to book your appointment now?”
Beware of visits and calls like this. It may be someone hoping to have entry to your home to charge you a high fee for cleaning your chimney, or even worse, rob you.
The first thing the chimney sweep scammer does is, they quote you a rock-bottom price. Once they’ve hooked you into committing to their services, they “find” other areas of your chimney that need repair and quote you excessively high prices for them. They are adept at using high-pressure sales tactics to get you to agree on the spot and possibly give them a deposit.
The danger of falling for the chimney sweep scam is that the sweep may not be qualified to make the repairs. Or they may abscond with your deposit.
Protect yourself from the chimney sweep scam by following the tips below.
Don’t allow any random chimney sweep into your house. If you need your chimney cleaned, get referrals from people in your neighborhood. Find out the range of prices for chimney cleaning services in your area.
Verify that the chimney sweep you’re considering is licensed and insured.
Check for business stability. Many chimney cleaning scammers are fly-by-night operators who move from town to town or one scam to the next. Ask the chimney sweep how long they’ve been in business. Are they driving a rented truck, or do they have company vehicles? Additionally, request references from local customers.
Ask for photo or video evidence of work done. Chimney sweeps should take photos of the chimney before and after their work.
Resist the chimney scammer’s sales pressure. Scammers are experienced at painting a dire picture of the condition of your chimney and listing all the negative consequences of delaying repairs. They emphasize that they are offering you a good price and that you must act quickly or they won’t be able to hold the price. Stand firm and do not give in to pressure. Get a second or third estimate, and don’t necessarily hire the lowest bidder.
For fire safety, you should have your chimney cleaned at least every three years. But you should have the cleaning done on your schedule, not just because a “helpful” chimney sweep stopped by and offered to do the job.
This business seems to attract con men so be sure you know who is coming into your home. We recommend the following chimney services:
Bill Ingraham (Chimney Cleaning)
105 River Road, Cos Cob CT, 203.869.5242
Bill is a very reliable and honest chimney/fireplace cleaner.
Chimney Swifts (Chimney Cleaning)
78 Valley Road, Cos Cob CT, 203.661.7243
Steve Oldham will inspect and clean your chimney. He has been operating in Greenwich since 1979 and is very reliable and honest.