This winter, most pointedly around the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the entire Attorney General’s Office are warning residents all over of scams involving furnace, fireplace, and chimney repairs.
The office has said, point blank: do not be pressured. If you are not in need of a furnace or chimney repair, do not be talked into it. Additionally, all should be cautious of companies—especially little known ones—that seek out and solicit you and act as if time is of the essence.
“Consumers should be wary of companies or contractors that are not based in Pennsylvania, offer free or low-cost chimney cleaning services or furnace inspections, or claims for expensive and immediate repairs; or create a sense of urgency with warnings of a pending house fire or carbon monoxide leak,” the Attorney General’s Office said.
Of course, if your chimney, furnace or fireplace is in need of cleaning, repair or inspection, do not hesitate to have it taken care of, as trouble or problems in any could definitely raise safety concerns or bring about a fire or leak. If you are looking to update your chimney or just simply need a cleaning or inspection, plan ahead and be weary of criminals who wish to take your time and money with little to no services rendered.
Kane has offered up these tips to help you avoid scams, fraud or worse this winter:
- Don’t make a snap decision. Take time to plan and don’t be afraid to get second and third opinions and bids on projects.
- To the same end, at all costs do not agree to same-day installation or services. Ask for pictures or video of similar projects a contractor has completed and recommendations or sketches of what they might do for your home.
- Do a background check on any contractors you are considering to see if they belong to any nationally recognized groups like the National Chimney Sweep Guild or the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
- Ask for references for whom you can contact to ask about satisfaction levels. You can check reviews of companies and contractors on Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.
If someone is insistent something is broke or breaking, ask to see proof or evidence.
- Familiarize yourself with the industry, including terminology, products, repair tactics, and more, as not to be tricked by scheming scammers.
The Attorney General’s Office said if you are to get work done, consider these guidelines:
- Always get a copy of the proposal, estimations, contract and receipt.
- Your contract should most definitely state clear specifics regarding payment, dates working, and a “Notice of Cancellation,” which will give you three business days to cancel the contract when it’s signed in your home.
- Any repair work costing more than $500 should be re-checked and verified. Confirm that the contractor is registered with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Attorney General’s Office said it is their hope that residents will use their website or call 1-888-520-6680 to confirm and use registered contractors for home improvement issues.
Wells & Sons Chimney Service offers a full range of chimney cleaning and chimney repair services. They also sell and install wood stoves. Their service area extends across Berwyn, Allentown, Norristown, Berwyn, Collegeville, and surrounding areas in Southeastern Pennsylvania.