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Pro Tips

American Chimney technicians will clean and inspect your chimney and appliance. If upon inspection American Chimney finds an area of concern, it will be photo documented. Within approximately 7-10 business days, you will receive a detailed photographic and written report to include a summary of recommended services. Nobody in the chimney sweep industry provides this type of reporting, and even fewer photo document your chimney. 

For your convenience, we have published a few articles from Consumer Reports and Angie's List to read for yourself. Our most basic services start at $165 for a cleaning and inspection. Level 2 inspections with an internal video system starts at $250. If there is anything to be repaired we offer to credit a portion of the inspection charges. We pride ourselves in educating our customers and offer great value to our customers lives and homes.

Please read the articles from Consumer Reports and Angie's List below. Also feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Clean Your Chimney

A wood-burning fireplace or stove may be cozy, but creosote buildup can block the flow of smoke and cause chimney fires and carbon-monoxide poisoning. And even unused chimneys can develop cracks that weaken the structure.

What to do: If your chimney hasn’t had a recent inspection, now’s the time. Figure on roughly $150 to $300 for an inspection and a sweep. Go to csia.org for industry-certified chimney sweeps and check bbb.org for complaints.

What you save: Up to $5,000 if the chimney flue liner cracks; thousands more if there’s a fire. You also avoid potentially deadly safety risks.

REMEMBER: A basic inspection and sweep takes 60 to 90 minutes and can cost up to $300. The sweep should ask about past problems. He’ll turn off fuel-burning appliances that vent into any of the chimney’s flues and put drop cloths in the work area. He’ll inspect the chimney and flashing, clean the chimney and firebox, and note any problems. If the chimney has been structurally changed a more intensive, and expensive, inspection is required. And if you have chimney damage or deterioration, a demolition might be in order. Of course, that costs more.

What to do - Things to Know

Maintain your gas furnace or other fuel-burning heating appliance, like a wood or pellet stove. Beyond doing the usual maintenance and cleaning, you should check all flues, vents, and chimneys that carry the burned gases for proper operation and signs of corrosion or leaks. Repair or replace the vent system as needed.

Avoid a fraudulent chimney sweep

  • The scene: A chimney-sweeping company contacts you and offers to clean your wood-burning fireplace for the low price $35. You figure, “What the heck” and make an appointment. Upon arriving at your house and taking a quick look up the chimney, the sweep tells you, “You’re chimney is so dirty and covered in creosote that it’s a miracle your family isn’t dead from carbon-monoxide poisoning! For $2,000, I’ll get it spotless and make it safe.”
  • Your reaction:While this scenario might convince you to get the work done on the spot, we suggest you whisk away any sweep who uses scare tactics or one shows up without the basic tools, including a flashlight, brushes, and a special vacuum. Also beware of a pro who presents a low bid or an excessive proposal detailing a laundry list of repairs. A basic inspection and sweeping will cost about $150 to $300 and last up to 90 minutes.

Here’s what to look for in a reputable sweep:

  • Before the sweep starts work, he should ask you about any known chimney problems, past repairs you’ve had made, and how often you’ve used the fireplace since the last sweeping.
  • He’ll place drop cloths around the work area and shut off the furnace.
  • Next, he’ll head up to the roof to inspect the chimney and flashing and look for potential problems, such as overhanging tree limbs.
  • He’ll clean the chimney from the roof, then come inside and clean the firebox using brushes and that special vacuum.
  • After cleaning the chimney, the sweep will examine it using a mirror and flashlight. He’ll point out any other problems but won’t pressure you to do the repairs.

Chimney Cleaning Estimates

"Get multiple estimates before you have any work done,” Hicks says. “The average chimney cleaning and inspection cost about $150, and don't be fooled by prices that sound too-good-to-be-true."

Whether your chimney is venting a wood-burning or gas fireplace, wood stove, furnace or water heater, you should have it inspected annually and cleaned as needed. Creosote can build up inside your chimney, creating a fire hazard. Animals can take up residence or debris can accumulate, blocking a flue. A chimney professional can make sure there aren't any problems with the various parts that may comprise your chimney, such as the mortar, flue or cap, many of which can be difficult or impossible to detect without special equipment and a trained eye.

Chimney sweep contractor Dave Clift says, "If it's been a long time you are going to want to have it cleaned and inspected. You will know notice on traditionally masonry fire place that you will get a lot of odor out of a chimney when the creosote is getting really heavy usually if it's got to the point where you are getting a strong odor out of it you are probably long overdue for having it swept."

Before any work is done, make sure the contractor is insured and bonded. It's important to check that the company has insurance before you hire. Insurance protects your home and furnishings. If a contractor recommends expensive repairs, they should be able to provide photo or video images of the problems. Make sure the images are actually of your home and be wary of anyone who pressures you to act immediately.

Scams More Prevalent in the Northeast

Consumer run-ins with deceptive chimney contractors seem to be concentrated in the northeastern part of the country, with many complaints targeting companies based on Long Island in New York, where Clean Cut was located, according to experts from the industry and law enforcement.

But negative experiences with chimney companies can happen anywhere. Member Richard Strecker of Loveland, Ohio, says a technician dumped soot and debris beside his driveway after cleaning his chimney, and then denied it when he complained to the company's office. "When somebody lies to their boss, you wonder if maybe they're not shortcutting in other places," Strecker says.

Eleven percent of Angie's List members responding to an online poll say they've had at least one negative experience with a chimney contractor and 2 percent say they've had nothing but bad experiences. Thirteen percent say they thought they'd paid too much or paid for services they didn't need.

"Where I live, this type of scam is very prevalent," says John Pilger, president of the highly rated Chief Chimney Services in Smithtown, N.Y. Companies in his area advertise a chimney cleaning for as little as $29.95. "When I started out in 1986 with my own company, I was charging $60," says Pilger, adding that Chief Chimney now charges $175 for an inspection and cleaning.

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