So, you read the title and you thinking that chimney sweeps are a jolly bunch and bad news is not part of the job description, right?
Wrong! The number one job a chimney sweep must perform is safety. Our jobs day to day involve us looking for and assessing the safety of installations, appliances, chimneys flues and items superfluous to installation such as ventilation or distance to combustibles.
The information that we gather must not be kept secret, ignored, or dismissed instead it must be disseminated to our clients and unfortunately both you and your client will perceive this info initially as Bad news.
Why is this a problem?
Some clients really do not understand what a modern sweep does or their obligations to keep the client and property safe, instead they perceive the sweep as a cleaner of soot and that’s it. Even if that were true however a cleaner would be obliged to pass on anything that they may find from doing their job for both conscientious and legal reasons.
How is this information given to the customer?
Typically, an industry standard sweeping certificate will be issued which the client will sign, this certificate should document issues of none compliances with building regulations section j and British Standards.
When these none compliances are considered either actually or potentially dangers either individually of together as a compounded problem the then a warning label/ card must be affixed to the appliance and a warning notice raised to safeguard our customers, their, family, property and prevent any potential litigation lead from omission of this vital information further down the line.
It is human nature to worry about the little old grand ma / pa who’s heating you might be condemning but as a great man once said, ‘no good deed goes unpunished’.
In situations such as this look for alternatives; phone age concern, a family member or go the extra mile and help your elderly or at-risk client buy an electric radiator while the dangerous issue is addressed.
What you must not do is; turn a blind eye, ignore, or dismiss even for the best of reasons. Some people just cannot give bad news and perhaps chimney sweeping isn’t for them?
After the initial shock of the bad news and the worry about associated cost implications our clients are typically very understanding. Its best practice to educate them on the process, the documentation that you have issued what’s wrong and why and the risks that they have been blissfully unaware of until that dreaded conversation. Most importantly Have a responsible person sign the warning notice and certificate to ensure they understand the potential negative outcomes.
Fellow chimney sweeps; be professional, conscientious, cautious and thorough. You might save someone’s life or their home just by doing your job.