Chimney sweeping scams abound due to lack of state regulation – NBC Boston

What there is to know

  • Out-of-state companies are calling homeowners with chimney cleaning offers, only to get their foot in the door selling unnecessary services.
  • There are no national regulations on chimney sweeps.
  • Make sure the company is insured, ask what licenses or industry credentials they hold, and check them.

When Lucille Collings bought her house, the fireplace was a big draw.

“I love a fireplace, it’s so nice,” she said.

But in January, Collings received a phone call from a chimney company offering a free inspection.

“The woman called me three times and three times I said I wasn’t interested,” Collings said. “Then she called me a fourth time, okay.”

When the technician showed up, he had some bad news.

She says he told her the pipes were too close and she needed a new chimney liner and to watch out for carbon monoxide.

“It scares me,” Collings said.

She accepted $4,600 in repairs and when the work was completed, Collings started a fire and said smoke poured into her house.

“It’s a nightmare, just a nightmare,” she said.

Collings filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office, but industry experts say they’ve seen this scenario many times before.

Out-of-state companies are calling homeowners with chimney cleaning offers, only to get their foot in the door selling unnecessary services. A job often poorly done, putting people in danger.

There are no state regulations on chimney sweeps, so we contacted the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

They recommended Lucille contact a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.

Jon White of Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep in Swampscott is CSIA certified and he took a look at his chimney.

“They used an undersized liner,” White said. “The lining of the heating system has been modified and the ventilation pipe has not been installed correctly and the permits have not been withdrawn.”

If you hire a chimney sweep, make sure the company is insured, ask what licenses or industry references they hold and check them, ask for current references, avoid offers that seem too good for you. be true and always get everything in writing.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep repaired Lucille’s fireplace for free, just in time for the holidays.

“I heard his story, I wanted to help,” White said. “So I contacted our chimney supplier, National Chimney Supply, and they graciously agreed to supply us with the parts. I then called a local plumber and he decided he wanted to pull the gas permit and do this. We gave him a safe fireplace.

A really warm gesture.

“It’s so nice and warm and cozy. I can’t believe it, I’m enjoying it all,” Lucille said.

You should always be wary of unsolicited phone calls from companies offering deals or claiming to be in the neighborhood working. And be safe. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney inspected annually.

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