On October 12th, NBC’s Today Show did a hidden camera report on chimney sweeps. With the weather getting colder it is important to make sure that your fireplace and chimney are in good working order, and that your chimney is clean, before you touch a match to that first fire of the year. There is nothing like curling up in front of a blazing fire on a chilly day. But you need to do it safely, and that means paying attention to the condition of your fireplace and chimney.
There are almost 25,000 chimney fires every year, and they account for over $125,000 million dollars in property damage. While a chimney fire may stay contained within the chimney itself, it will often spread and become a full-fledged house fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that you get your chimney inspected every year, and cleaned if necessary.
Many companies clean and inspect chimneys. How do you know if you are hiring a reputable one? As the Today Show report showed, there are unscrupulous companies out there that will try to either charge you for services you don’t need, or not actually provide the services that you paid for. After all, you aren’t likely to climb up on your roof and look down your chimney to make sure that they have done the job you paid for. And, unless you are a chimney sweep, you probably don’t know what to look for in the first place.
How do you protect yourself? First, educate yourself. Know what obvious signs to look for in your fireplace and chimney that indicate you could have a problem. Know what to look for in a good chimney sweep. The cheapest is not always the best way to go. A good chimney sweep will be certified by the CSIA, and a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). While this doesn’t guarantee the sweeps business practices, it does demonstrate that the company has a dedication to professionalism. Check the company out with the Better Business Bureau. Ask for current references. Make sure that they are insured, and ask to see their insurance certificate. Don’t get taken by telephone scams or by someone showing up at your door with a special “deal”. Ask for estimates, the best estimates will also include pictures.
Dr. Soot has been cleaning chimneys in Colorado Springs since 1989. We are dedicated to educating our customers about their systems, and the most efficient use of them. We provide safety checks and sweeps in accordance with local and national safety codes. If you are ever concerned or confused about what we are doing, just ask. We take the time to insure that you understand how your chimney affects the safety of your home, and exactly what needs to be done, and why, if repairs are needed. Besides being members of NCSG, and certified by CSIA, we are members of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of Residential Property Owners and we have a Contractor’s License from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.