Chimney sweep dispute

trancefusionSeptember 25, 2013

I hired a chimney sweep to clean my chimney. I explained to him on the phone that there was chunky creosote along the bricks in the smoke chamber, and that the damper and smoke shelf were pretty gunked up. He said yes, that's all part of the standard sweep. I asked if I should cover or move anything, and he said that he would cover it and use a 4" wide vacuum hose to catch the loose soot and dust as it came down.

So, the guy arrived and worked for about 20 minutes, and then declared that he was done. I looked up the chimney through the fireplace and it looked pretty much the same, brick in the smoke chamber was all covered. He had only used a short handled wire brush and a soft brush to clean, letting the chunks fall down which he then swept up with a little shovel. He did fill up about 1/2 of a 5 gal bucket (which he wanted to dump in our backyard). He did not use a vacuum so of course some of the soot bounced down into our rug and flooring.

I told him I didn't think he did a good job and he looked up the chimney and said that yes, he had missed a couple of spots, so he worked for a few more minutes but didn't clean much more soot off.

He refused to clean the flue ("doesn't need to be cleaned").

He refused to clean the ash box or chute down to it ("none of us do that").

Still there was a lot of creosote on the brick in the smoke box ("we don't get it clean, we get it safe" and "i can't scrape every brick" and "as long as you can see the outline of each brick it is fine").

I told him I wasn't paying him the full amount that we agreed to because I felt that I had to have another person out to do the job properly. I told him I would pay him half for his time and mileage. He acted offended that I thought his job was sub-par and said I wasn't qualified to judge his work and was being unreasonable, and that his work wasn't worth less than what we had originally discussed. I refused to pay the full amount and he left angry without taking anything.

I'm not really trying to rip anyone off here. I just wanted to have a good job done. Am I being unreasonable? Should a chimney sweep be expected to remove the creosote from the brick? or do they just make sure there is a clear path through the chimney?

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The whole point of having a chimney cleaned is to remove the flammable creosote to prevent the possibility of a chimney fire. The chunky creosote you describe is usually the most dangerous type. The entire flue should have been brushed from the roof down, the debris vacuumed up - after having put down some form of floor protection -, and all the loose creosote removed via the chimney cleanout door.

This job was worth exactly what you paid for it - nothing. If this was a certified sweep, he ignored the rules of his trade. You have every reason to complain to the Better Business Bureau or other agency. Such shoddy workmanship should not be tolerated.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 5:22AM
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The next time you get a sweep, get in writing exactly what will be done before you start. Some people have different ideas as to what is going to be done.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:25AM
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