The world is full of a lot of really bad chimney companies, but Long Island
doesn't have to worry so much. There may be a few hacks around the LI that aren't entirely on the up and up, but most every chimney sweep and guy who does chimney flue repair in LI
That's actually a kind of rare thing -- there's a reason that the chimney industry has kind of a bad rap. In south Chicago, for example, almost 7 out of 10 chimney repair companies are hacks. They don't have licenses, they're not bonded, and if they screw things up worse than they already were, you find that their phone number has been disconnected, their website is down, and you have no way of getting your money back.
Around Long Island, however, there's a certain pride in being a chimney guy. Maybe it's because homeowners around here take more pride in their houses. Maybe it's because there's just a higher level of competition, so we all have to stay on our A games.
If you're worried about getting a chimney repair company that can do the job right, don't. It's really not that difficult to tell the professionals from the hacks. A few years ago, all you needed was a listing in the phone book to know that an LI chimney repairman was legit, but today you need a couple of extra steps.
First of all, don't trust referrals that the company itself gives you. They might be paying their aunt Zlevzya to claim to be a satisfied customer. If you can get a review from someone you know, it's as good as gold. Other than that, you have to ask them directly to produce the paperwork. If they pull out proof of bonding, a certificate or license to do chimney work in New York State, and insurance, you can generally feel confident about working with them.
If you're still not comfortable, don't hesitate to collect information from several different companies and then go with the one you get the best feeling about. A little work up front can save you a lot of pain later.