By Tracy F. Seelye, Express editor
HANSON — The Chimney Chap, which has done business — in Bridgewater and Duxbury, where the firm was founded — for 34 years, will open the doors to a new location at 1127 Main St. this fall.
While owners Scott and Rania Sarras are proud of the family business’ success and longevity, they are more pleased with the solid reputation they’ve achieved. Nothing makes them angrier than the scams some out-of-state companies have perpetrated in Massachusetts.
“These poor customers, one or two years later, have real problems,” Rania said. “We’ve called the attorney general’s office and we’ve discussed problems that these companies are creating in the state.”
A common scam is to quote a low figure such as $69 for a chimney sweep, only to “discover” CO2 coming back into the house because a new liner system is needed. Usually, no problem exists or, if one does, it is made worse by shoddy workmanship offered at a “discount” price. Some offending companies even make cold calls.
Another problem with fraudulent companies is they often will change their names after a year or two, making it harder to challenge poor workmanship, according to Rania.
“It was happening a lot on the North Shore where you have a lot of out-of-state scam companies,” Rania said as the wiring was being upgraded in the new location. “They do a lot of advertising on Groupon, Angie’s List, Amazon.”
Angie’s List has since removed companies not properly licensed in Massachusetts.
The Chimney Chap has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, is an A-rated Super Service on Angie’ List and is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) as well as a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild. The company holds state Construction Supervisor and Home Improvement Contractor’s licenses, which can be verified on its Website.
“It’s to protect the homeowner,” she said. “If something is installed improperly, the customer can go through the state for the refund.”
The Sarras and the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation agree that the best way to obtain reliable chimney cleaning, or any home improvement service is summed up in two words: Think twice.
“You don’t ever hire anyone or sign anything on the spot,” Rania said. “You want to make sure they are CSIA-certified. You want to do your research on the company. Always get two estimates.”
The CSIA Website can provide a list of certified firms in an area when consumers enter their ZIP Code.
“Social media can be a valuable tool,” she said. “People will tell you about their bad experiences, their good experiences.”
The couple did their research in finding a retail space when the company outgrew their Bridgewater home office. Hanson is centrally located to many of their clients in Hanson, Halifax, Bridgewater and Pembroke so the location was ideal.
“I like the town of Hanson,” she added.
They have been working to build floor-display fireplaces in materials ranging from traditional masonry to wood frame-and-ceramic-tile, mantles, gas inserts and stoves.
About a month after their planned opening in late September or early October, the Sarras will hold a grand opening barbecue, which will include raffles for T-shirts and some of their goods and services.
“We want to get settled and then have our opening day,” she said.
The best time to get a chimney sweep? Traditionally, people wait until fall when the demand is highest because that nip in the air is a reminder of cold weather to come, but Rania has a better suggestion.
“Do it in the summer,” she said. “Do it the minute winter’s over and you know you’re not burning anymore — April, May. You get it out of the way and don’t have to worry about having to wait.”
Off-season sweeps can also save customers 25 percent.
The Chimney Chap’s services include: Inspections, cleaning, crown repair, cap and liner installations, chimney repointing and rebuilds, chimney restoration, masonry work, dryer vent cleaning, drafting problems and weatherproofing.