Hank Investigates: Chimney Sweeps - WHDH-TV 7News Boston

Hank Investigates: Chimney Sweeps

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The guy walking up to our front door is a chimney sweep. We've called him saying we need to make sure our chimney and furnace flues are safe and work properly. What will he tell us?

When Lorraine and Bill had a chimney sweep check their home, they were surprised and frightened by what they were told.

Lorraine, Homeowner

"They said that it was dangerous, because, you know, the fumes were coming into house."

A company had called to offer the chimney service. They said it would cost just $49.99 and Lorraine and Bill agreed.

When the sweep examined their chimney and furnace, he told the couple he'd found a hole in their chimney. A situation so dangerous, he had to turn off their heat.

Bill, Homeowner

"He said we were lucky not to be sick from it, you know?"

And then he told them, he couldn't turn the heat on again until they paid him $4200.

Bill, Homeowner

"I was scared you know, but I figured I had to do it."

Lowell Police say this couple was badly deceived, so much so they're now warning other homeowners they could be ripped off.

Captain Randall J. Humphrey, Lowell Police

"It's wrong and people need to be made aware what they can do to protect themselves from situations such as this."

So what would this guy tell us? We had an undercover crew waiting inside with hidden cameras to find out.

Before our test began, this industry-certified chimney sweep examined the chimney and the furnace flue.

Hank

"Is there anything wrong with this chimney?"

Dan Jacobson, Secretary, Massachusetts Chimney Sweep Guild

"No."

But this guy examines our fireplace, then climbs onto the roof to get a different view. We know there's nothing wrong, but this guy has bad news.

His report says we need waterproofing, a special "smoke chamber treatment," and that the flue needs to to be cleaned.

Hank

"Does any of this work need to be done?"

Dan Jacobson, Secretary Massachusetts Chimney Sweep Guild

"No, it does not."

And look at the estimate, besides the $139 dollar inspection, the company wants us to pay $635 for their work, a total of more than $700 dollars.

Hank

"Should we have paid 700 dollars?"

Dan Jacobson, Secretary Massachusetts Chimney Sweep Guild

"Absolutely not, absolutely not."

Our investigation found, there's no state licensing or registration for chimney sweeps, so its up to you to choose a reputable company, or you could pay big bucks for products and services you don't need. Before you sign up to have any chimney work done this winter--check our website for all you need to know to make sure your money doesn't go up in smoke.

To find a certified chimney sweep professional click here: http://mcsguild.org/

For more information on chimney safety click here: http://www.csia.org/

Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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