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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

Who fixes refrigerators?

Typically, appliance repair technicians who offer refrigeration repair also work with washers, dryers, dishwashers and other household appliances. While there is no formal training required to be an appliance repair technician, consider certification requirements, as the technician should know how to safely work with refrigerants (the chemical that keeps your fridge cold) and substitute refrigerants such as HFCs. You should also read reviews to get a sense of the pro’s experience and reputation. The appliance repair pro will come to your home, bringing all the necessary tools for diagnosis. They may need to order parts to complete the job, but all the work will take place in your home. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.

How much does it cost to have the chimney swept?

The national average chimney sweep cost is $100 to $130. The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney inspected at least once a year, but daily use and other factors might mean you need more regular service. Here are several reasons your chimney sweep cost may be higher than the national average:

  • Overly dirty chimney: If you haven’t cleaned your chimney in many years, or if you’ve just bought an older home and don’t know how long it has been since the chimney was cleaned, excessive grime could increase the cost of the job.
  • Roof height or chimney height: The chimney sweep may also charge an extra fee if your roof is too high for a ladder to reach or is too steep to safely climb on without a harness.
  • Frequency of use: If your fireplace is your primary heating source, the buildup of soot might be far greater than if you just use your fireplace a few times a winter when company comes over. This may impact cost.
  • Excessive debris: Leaves, twigs, and other debris that’s collected in your chimney is a fire hazard and should be cleaned immediately. An excess of junk may result in higher chimney sweep costs.
  • Live or dead animals: Prepare to pay extra if live or dead animals are in the chimney. Rodents, birds and bats can all set up camp in your chimney. A chimney cap can help prevent them from getting in, but once you hear something scurrying around, or smell the unmistakable scent of dead critter, call a chimney sweep immediately.
  • Geographic location: Chimney sweep costs may be higher in your city due to factors such as a higher cost of living or higher cost do business (insurance, overhead, employee wages, etc.).
  • Chimney repair: Any repairs that are needed internally or externally to your fireplace will increase costs. A thorough cleaning and inspection will reveal whether repairs to masonry, tuck-pointing, the back wall, bricks, the fireplace floor or the crown are needed.
  • Chimney cap installation: A chimney cap prevents debris from collecting in your chimney as well as preventing animals such as birds, mice, or raccoons from taking up residence inside. The cost of the chimney cap plus the labor for installation can increase fees.

How long does it take to clean a chimney?

A typical chimney cleaning takes between 30 and 60 minutes. Wood insert fireplaces may take longer to clean, as can chimneys that contain birds’ nests, excessive debris or wildlife. A chimney sweep will arrive at your location and assess the fireplace to be cleaned, and will set up protective coverings or dropcloths to prevent any ash or soot from escaping into your home during the cleaning. Using high-powered vacuums, they clean out ash and other debris in the firebox. With special, long-reach brushes they brush down the interior walls all the way to the top of the chimney to loosen and remove built-up soot and creosote. Many chimney sweeps also offer inspections in tandem with cleanings to make sure you don’t have any cracks or damage inside the chimney or out. Repair work or additions — such as installing a chimney cap — can increase the cleaning time.

How often should you have your chimney swept?

Regularly having your chimney cleaned is highly recommended both to improve the chimney’s efficiency as a heat source and to prevent home fires. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having your chimney inspected at least once a year. You can hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney while also inspecting it to ensure there is no damage to the lining, firebox or masonry. If you’ve had a new fireplace or wood-burning stove installed, CSIA urges you to have it checked halfway into the first season of use to make sure it’s operating safely. According to industry standards, a chimney sweep is recommended if more than 1/8 of an inch of soot or creosote has built up in the chimney or flue. Some fireplace experts suggest having your chimney cleaned, regardless of buildup, after every 1-2 cords of wood burned. Consult with your chimney sweep about what is best for optimal efficiency and safety with your fireplace.

How long do fridges last?

Refrigerators can last 10 to 20 years, although the most common lifespan is about 13 years. If your fridge is acting up, consider its current age when deciding whether to invest in repairs or buy a new one. Common easy fixes include faulty thermostats, dirty coils and clogged drain lines. Thermostats and dirty coils can be generally be fixed for an average cost of $80-$100. Clogged drain lines, which usually cause leaks, can often be fixed for under $200.

More complex refrigeration repairs such as replacing a bad compressor or replenishing low refrigerant can cost more because of expensive parts and higher labor. A new compressor costs an average of $200, not including labor. If labor is an average of $75-$100 per hour, and the repair takes 3 hours, you’re looking at roughly $500. Consider the age and purchase cost of your fridge; investing $350 in a $600 fridge that is 8 years old may not be cost-effective.

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