Don't Fall For These Four Common Chimney Scam Techniques
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Safeguarding Against Scams in the Chimney Industry

The fire is crackling, and a pleasant hickory aroma fills the air. It must be getting close to winter in Western New York. But keeping your chimney, fireplace, and heating stove safe requires regular maintenance. Like many other service industries, the chimney industry has its share of scam artists who try to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester, and surrounding areas. From the bait and switch to the pay upfront scams, fraudulent chimney companies are roaming the neighborhood with offers that seem too good to be true. Don’t get burned! Here’s what you need to know to safeguard against chimney scams:

chimney inspection services in Tonawanda NYThe Bait-and-Switch

This is the most common chimney scam in the industry. So, beware of companies offering suspiciously low prices for chimney inspections or cleaning. Often, these “too-good-to-be-true” deals, like a “free” inspection, are a ploy to get their foot in the door. Once inside, they’ll “discover” serious problems requiring expensive repairs—issues that may be exaggerated or not even exist!

The “Fake” Chimney Sweep

Another common scam is the “fake” Chimney Sweep. These individuals often lack the industry training and certification of a Certified Chimney Professional®. They usually knock on the door, offering to clean your chimney for a low price, but end up leaving a mess or worse – damaging your home and creating a fire hazard. Don’t allow anyone offering chimney services into your home who cannot provide proof of certification from industry organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) or the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). Don’t hesitate to ask for references and check online reviews before hiring someone.

The Scare Tactic

Another popular scam in Erie and Monroe Counties is when a crooked chimney sweep uses fear tactics to pressure you into making unnecessary repairs. They might claim your chimney liner is crumbling (showing you pictures of a different chimney!) or that a minor crack poses an immediate fire hazard. Don’t be tricked – a reputable chimney repair company will explain any issues clearly and provide options.

The Pay Upfront Scam

A scammer convinces you to pay for chimney cleaning or repair in advance, then vanishes without a trace, never to be seen or heard from again. While deposits are common in the industry, a reputable chimney company will never require you to pay in advance. You should always insist on getting estimates in writing.

Keeping Your Home and Wallet Safe: Tips for Western New Yorkers

  • Get Multiple Estimates: Compare quotes from several qualified chimney sweeps before deciding.
  • Research and Verify: Check online reviews and ask for references. Make sure the company is licensed and insured in New York State. Verify their certifications with the issuing organization.
  • Don’t Fall for Pressure Tactics: A legitimate chimney sweep will gladly answer any questions and address your concerns. Don’t feel pressured to decide on the spot.
  • Get it in Writing: Before any work begins, have a written contract outlining the scope of work, price, and warranty. This protects you in case of disputes.

chimney repairs in Rochester, NY

By following these tips, Western New York homeowners can enjoy the warmth of their fireplaces without getting burned by a chimney scam. Remember, a little research goes a long way in protecting your home and your wallet.

Professional Chimney Inspections in Buffalo  – Niagara Falls – Rochester, NY

We’re in your neighborhood! Winter is coming, so now is a great time to schedule your annual chimney inspection. Owner CSIA-certified and BBB Accredited with an A+ rating, Felgemacher is trusted by thousands of homeowners in Western New York. Call Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney’s certified professionals at (716) 452-9156 in Buffalo or (585) 684-7197 in Rochester to schedule a Chimney Inspection with a Certified Chimney Sweep® today! You can also contact us online