A Lay(wo)man's Perspective
Hi all! Emily here, writing our first blog post from The Village Chimney Sweep.
You may, or may not know, that I am one half of the owners of this company. I am the office side of things. My partner, Cole, also happens to be my cousin. He handles the technical side of things...quite well, I might add.
Cole was raised in a family of chimney sweeps. In fact, we purchased this business from his parents at the beginning of this year. He has worked with his dad since he was just a sprout and because of that, he has more knowledge in his pinky than I have in my whole body. However, we're both committed to learning, learning, learning. So far, Cole has continued his education by getting his CSIA certification and his F.I.R.E. Certified Inspector certification. We both decided that any person from our company who works on your our customers' chimneys must at minimum be certified through the CSIA. Which is why, our other team member, Wyatt, is certified too. While I hold neither certification yet, I am committing right here and now to be certified by August 1, 2018. There. It's in the public and I give permission to one and all to SHAME me if I do not live up to that goal.
Even though I do not carry the credentials that I want and need yet, I have learned a lot in the last year and a half or so while I have been answering phones. A few of these lessons are important for our customers to know and I hope that readers take this advise to heart.
1. Chimneys are funky! They play by their own rules. No two chimneys are the same and chimneys really can't be compared to many other appliances. Just when I think that I have an answer to a technical question, I check with Cole and he responds with a, "Yeaaahhh, wellll, in this case...". Even when you have a prefabricated chimney installed in your home, the way you burn, or the placement within your home, or the type of wildlife in your area, or a myriad of other factors causes different things to happen within your chimney. No one can truly evaluate your chimney unless they a) see it, and b) know what the heck they're looking at!
2. If you're not calling a chimney sweep with credentials, you'll end up calling one anyway. We get SO many calls from people who thought they could save a few dollars by booking a discount chimney sweep. Come to find out, the company has used high-pressure sales to book something that the homeowner might not even need. Unfortunately, the discount area is where the scammers also live. Yes, like so many other industries, the chimney sweeping industry has it's fair share of scammers. Ick, I know! Your only protection is to call a professional that has been certified. Here are a few links to credible professional organizations: CSIA, F.I.R.E. Certified Inspector, and NFI. (Not that these are the only ones, these are just the ones I know.) A final word of caution, just because someone puts a certification logo on their website, does not mean they're certified. Be sure to find your professional's credentials on the certifying organization's website to be sure they have done what they say they have.
3. Certifications are attached to individuals, not companies. When you need a specialty service, like a Rampart General inspection, make sure you are asking for the individual at the company who is certified to handle that type of inspection. Usually, the person on the phone can help you with that, but in case they forget, which I do sometimes, make sure you ask.
4. Everyone makes mistakes! I make a tremendous amount of mistakes! TREMENDOUS AMOUNT! Fortunately, my mistakes involve rolling our business from paper to paperless or something like that. However, the good companies will work to improve and to make it right. I can tell you, that Cole is constantly thinking about his jobs and checking in with his mentors and making sure that he's making the right calls. So, while we may be fallible, at least we're improving and we care about the service we provide. (And, if we realize we have made a mistake, we make every effort to fix it.)
5. Chimney sweeps are generous! In San Diego County I can think of AT LEAST five chimney sweeping companies who I could call on for advice or who I would refer to a customer. It goes both ways, we get referrals from other companies in our area all the time. The chimney sweeping community who share the same code of ethics and try to do right by their customers is a close group. If you have questions about something, just ask!
6. People don't use chimney sweeps nearly enough! Like I said earlier, chimneys are funky. If you aren't regularly maintaining your chimney, creosote, the byproduct of fire, can eat away at your system. Which, by the way, can be the LEAST of your concerns. I won't go into it all right here. I'll save that post for Cole. But, trust me when I say my mind was blown by all of the headaches that can be avoided just by having a chimney swept regularly.
7. Finally, if your chimney is smelling funny, DON'T USE IT! Frequently, funny smells can be attributed to a dirty chimney, but every now and then, the smell is something waaaaay worse. Don't use your chimney until a certified sweep has checked it out. You know, so you don't burn your house down.
Let this be just a few lessons for you to consider when booking a chimney sweep. This by no means, covers it all. However, I hope this provides you with a few things to think about. Thanks for stopping by The Village Chimney Sweep!