BBB warning homeowners about chimney sweep scams

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email
Chimney cleaning

Firefighters recommend getting an inspection every year, as a cleaning may not always be necessary. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 29, 2011)

News 12 at This Morning / Monday, Nov. 29, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Down South, it's only a few weeks out of the year you get some use out of your fireplace, but often times those flames by the fireplace can lead to bigger ones.

Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann, from the Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue explained, "Chimney fires we've had, people say sounded like a jet engine. The flames will shoot 10 to 12 feet above their chimney."

Over time, the smoke can create soot and creosote, building up into a thick tarry substance.

"Very, very flammable," Kuhlmann said.

That's why firefighters recommend getting your chimney inspected this time of the year. It's also the time some people are looking to take advantage and take your money.

Gigi Turner with the Better Business Bureau said they've received 380 complaints on chimney sweeps this year, as compared to 342 last year.

Turner says to check in with the BBB or the Chimney Safety Institute of America to find out about legitimate cleaning services.

"They'll come in, check the line to make sure it's clean and make sure there are not cracks anywhere where hot gasses can get through walls of the attic," Kuhlmann explained.

A cleaning will usually run you about $150 to $200. Any cheaper than that and you're probably not getting a full cleaning.

"I thought I was saving money and when we attempted to clean our chimney, we ended up having billows of ashes and smoke," Turner said.

So think twice about using do-it-yourself cleaning kits. There is also a difference between a cleaning and having an inspection. Firefighters recommend getting an inspection every year, as a cleaning may not always be necessary.


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