Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

November 4, 2013

CONSUMER ADVISORY: Tips to avoid furnace and chimney repair scams

Worried your furnace or chimney may not last the winter? Don't be fooled or rushed into repairs.

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.

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane offered the following advice for consumers:

  • Get a second opinion and several bids. Check to see if your contractor is affiliated with anY nationally recognized groups, such as the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  • Check the contractor's references. Reviews and other information can be found online with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Avoid agreeing to same day installation. Request a photo or video as proof of the recommended repairs.
  • Don't accept broken debris as evidence of that chimney repairs are needed. Ask to see what is broken or collapsed.
  • Learn about products and repairs that are specific to furnaces, fireplaces, and chimneys before the service person arrives.

Do the repairs sound too good to be true?  They probably are.  Do your homework and follow these guidelines when moving forward with cold weather repairs: 

  • Try to have your chimney or furnace serviced on a yearly basis to catch damage that can occur even when a fireplace or furnace is used infrequently.
  • Remember to obtain a copy of any proposal or contract. Contracts should contain specifics concerning payment and start/stop dates, plus a "Notice of Cancellation," which gives consumers three business days to cancel a contract when the contract is signed in a consumer's home.
  • If the repair work costs more than $500, verify that the contractor is registered with the Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection. Use the online registration form  or call 1-888-520-6680. The OAG encourages consumers to use registered contractors when deciding to invest in home improvements.