Don't get smoked by a bad chimney sweep

November 29, 2011 11:26:37 AM PST
Consumers looking to have their chimneys cleaned in preparation for the winter season need to be diligent when researching companies to do the job.

(RELEASE) The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to know which businesses to trust and which to avoid so that their hard earned dollars don't go up in smoke.

"Having a chimney cleaned is not something homeowners deal with often, so they may lack knowledge of the cleaning process," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. "Many scammers take advantage of this and do shoddy work or suggest expensive and unnecessary repairs."

In some cases, consumers have reported calls stating the town fire department recommends that resident's chimneys be cleaned. The calls go on to recommend a particular chimney sweep and endorse their services on behalf of the fire department. Though town fire departments do recommend having chimneys cleaned on an annual basis, they do not endorse any particular company or inspect chimneys. Many scam artists are targeting the elderly, making vague, unclear phone calls claiming they have done business in the past and it is time for their annual sweep.

Typically, a professional chimney sweep will charge between $150 and $200 for the cleaning of one chimney shaft, whereas scam artists are charging as little as $50. The BBB advises that if a price sounds too good to be true, it usually is and should be viewed as a red flag.

    The BBB recommends that consumers:
  • Check out a chimney cleaner's BBB Business Review at Are they an Accredited Business? Do they have any outstanding complaints?
  • Check the businesses history: How long have they operated in your area? Ask for additional references and check them.
  • Ask if they have a valid business liability insurance policy. In the event of an accident, this policy keeps your home and belongings safe.

For more information on finding businesses you can trust, visit

As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.

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