Environmental Chimney Sweep Inc.

The Chimney Sweep: A History


The chimney sweep appeared when people found they needed to vent their indoor fireplaces. Those same people could afford to pay someone else to keep those vents clean, and a profession was born. By the time the majority could afford the first, the profession had completely changed because of the reduced vent sizes necessitated by their popularity.

Chimney Sweep History - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

Adults could no longer fit into chimneys to remove debris and clean them with special brushes. The profession was now only ‘supervised’ by an adult, and instead, performed by a child, typically an orphan or from a very poor family. Those children were the ones sent up into chimneys, and – because of whom they were – little attention was paid to their safety.

As injuries and deaths of children began to rise in the performance of their jobs, some took heed and laws were passed. Although children were the first ‘professional’ sweeps, the real profession in its modern form was shaped at this point. Recognized dangers to both sweeps and homeowners — due to a lack of ongoing inspection of their chimneys — gave rise to present-day certifying institutions.

True For All Time

It was clear that even children could be trained to brush soot off the flue liner without causing damage. The problem, obviously, was that they were not trained to inspect the chimney either before or after cleaning it. Quickly in and out, they failed to detect cracks in flue tiles or evidence of water damage.

Even if they saw it, these easily trainable ‘sweeps’ had no idea what it might mean and, frankly, did not care. They were earning their porridge and mat and it is, no doubt, that basic need to survive that motivates uncertified sweeps today. Homeowners, however, also have a basic right to survive, which is why you should always choose a CSIA certified sweep.

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