Keeping your chimney clean, well-maintained, and in good repair is important for protecting your personal safety and the structure of your home. With so many different companies available, including everything from general contractors to chimney and fireplace companies, it’s hard to know who you should hire. Here are five questions you should always ask a pro before hiring them to service your chimney.
#1 – How Long Have You Been in Business?
This is an important question because it tells you a lot about the company’s overall reputation. Though it’s not necessarily a bad thing to hire a company that has only been open for a year or two, it’s better to hire one that boasts many years of excellent service. After all, a company that provides poor service in a saturated market is not likely to thrive, so companies that can stay open for decades are usually among the best.
#2 – Can You Provide References?
Another great way to learn more about a company you are considering for chimney cleaning, inspection or repair is to find out whether they can provide you references to contact. If so, be sure to ask those references about the company’s timely response, the quality of the work, the prices, and even whether their homes were treated with respect during the process. All these things say a lot about a chimney pro.
#3 – Do You Have any Lawsuits or Serious Complaints Pending?
Though it isn’t fair to assume that every company with a lawsuit or complaint is a bad company, especially if that lawsuit or complaint was years ago, having more than one recent (or even current) certainly is. There’s no reason to hire a chimney professional tied up in a lawsuit or a serious complaint when there are plenty of other companies from which to choose. In this case, it is best to avoid the same business ethic or shoddy workmanship that may have created that lawsuit in the first place.
#4 – Are You CSIA Certified?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to setting standards in chimney service and furthering chimney safety through those standards. They certify chimney technicians based on their knowledge and experience. As a result, CSIA-certified techs must pass a very rigorous exam and stay up-to-date with all the latest information as it relates to chimney service and safety. It is always in your best interest to hire certified chimney sweeps.
#5 – Are You Insured, Licensed, and/or Bonded?
Finally, making sure the company you hire carries adequate insurance, has the proper licenses, and is bonded (where required) is very important for your own personal protection. Otherwise, should that company cause some sort of incident on your property that results in significant damage to your furniture, your fireplace, or even the structure of your home, without the proper insurance, they may not be able to pay for those damages – and that means you will have to pay.
Hiring a chimney professional is not a difficult or impossible task, even in the Chicago area. Making sure the company you choose is properly insured, CSIA-certified, and not in the midst of some sort of serious complaint or legal battle is crucial. Aside from this, check any references provided, and be sure to pay close attention for professionalism and a friendly demeanor during your conversation. Ultimately, this will help you make the right choice.