FREE ESTIMATES vs. INSPECTIONS
And why you don’t want a free estimate.
One question we are frequently asked is whether we provide free estimates. Chimney Savers does
provide free estimates for new chimney installations and for chimneys which have no active flues.
However, in most other cases, it’s better to pay for an inspection of your chimney system.
We’ll go through 5 reasons why free estimates aren’t as good as they sound below.
To explain each of the reasons, let’s look at a common scenario.
A homeowner calls us who would like to
have a free estimate to repair the masonry at the top of the chimney.
Get to the “Root Cause” of the Issue
A free estimate would only address the symptom (the broken masonry at the top of the chimney),
without addressing the root cause of the problem. In most cases, the damage we see at the top of a
chimney is actually caused by what is venting into the chimney. The gases pumped into the chimney
from a boiler, furnace, or even a woodstove can condense and turn into liquid. This liquid can then
freeze and thaw throughout the chimney, deteriorating the chimney’s masonry. Even unused fireplaces
can send warm air up the chimney causing structural damage. By containing those gases, we can
prevent the issue from happening again in the future.
Get the Biggest Bang for your Buck
Most masonry repairs are not simple fixes and usually require significant amounts of scaffolding. It can
be far more economical if we can repair all the damage to the chimney while this scaffolding is up,
rather than performing the masonry repairs now and other work (such as a new stainless-steel liner to
replace the original compromised flue, if needed) at a later time.
The National Fire Protection Agency Requires an Inspection
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), chimneys should be inspected annually
and, if needed, swept. Furthermore, according to the NFPA, if a chimney liner is to be installed into an
existing chimney, a Level 2 Inspection is required before doing so. This inspection greatly improves the
likelihood of your new chimney liner being installed without issue.
Improve Your Heating System Performance
Changes to the chimney above the roofline – even as small as installing a new chimney cap – can
significantly alter the performance of your fireplace, woodstove, or oil/gas appliances. This means
there’s an opportunity to improve the performance of these appliances when we repair your chimney’s
masonry. Our inspection process can reveal a great deal about how each appliance is performing and if
changes are needed.
An Estimate vs. a Firm Price
When you receive an estimate from a contractor it is just that: an estimation of the amount of time and
materials it will take to perform that project. When the final bill comes around, homeowners often see
that the estimate was far lower. Usually this means something was overlooked during the estimation.
This can sometimes add thousands to the total project cost. In contrast, when Chimney Savers gives you
a proposal, it is a firm price. Even if the job takes us a week longer than we expected, we will not charge
you a dollar more. Furthermore, by performing an inspection before giving you a proposal, we uncover all the hidden
defects that could possibly bump up the price, so there are no hidden surprises (or extra
What if I have already had a chimney company look at the chimney?
Even if you have already been quoted repairs on your chimney, we cannot rely on their findings. We need to perform our own thorough inspection of the chimney system to determine the appropriate repairs. Since our establishment in 1989, we have developed a detailed inspection process designed to cover all areas of each unique chimney system.
What if I don’t use the fireplace and don’t have any plans to do so?
We would still be liable for issues to the fireplace resulting from our repairs; therefore, we would need
to perform an inspection of the fireplace prior to doing any repairs.
My boiler tech said I need a chimney liner. Why should I have an inspection performed?
Oil/gas technicians are trained on how your appliances functions and how to repair them when they
need it. They are not trained in complex chimney systems and how to diagnose issues within these
systems when they occur. In addition, as we outline in Reason #3 above, anytime you install a new liner
into an existing chimney, the NFPA requires a Level 2 inspection.
What would be an example of a scenario where you do provide a free estimate?
We provide free estimates for a new chimney (masonry or class A) and for repairing a chimney with no
active flues (i.e., no appliance or fireplace is connected to it).
Can chimney sweeping be performed in the winter?
Yes, Chimney Savers performs sweeps and inspections all year round. During certain weather conditions
it may be unsafe to access your roof, but most of our sweeping and inspection is performed from inside
How quickly can I expect an appointment?
This can vary significantly depending on the time of year. It could range from a couple of weeks to three
months, depending on how busy we are. In general, from September to January is busiest. The best time
of year to schedule a chimney sweeping is the spring or early summer.
Do you perform masonry repairs all year round?
No. We can’t do masonry repairs when the temperature goes below freezing (due to the water used to
mix the mortar). Typically this means we stop doing masonry repairs in November and start back up