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It costs between $150 and $250 to hire a chimney sweep. This is just for basic sweeping services and doesn't include inspection and repair costs if anything is wrong. Factors that can affect the cost include the area where you live, the height of the chimney, and steepness of your home's roof.
A chimney is swept by pushing a brush mounted on a flexible rod up through the flue to break creosote buildup loose from the interior walls. The brush and rod combo is then pushed down through the top of the chimney to clean the upper portion of the flue.
Chimneys usually need to be swept once a year. If the chimney is heavily used, it may need to be done more often. If it’s rarely used, it may not need annual cleanings. Your homeowner's insurance may dictate how often you need to have your chimney swept to maintain coverage.
Chimney sweep logs work, but they aren’t a substitute for a full cleaning. These logs are ideal for basic chimney maintenance between professional cleanings. Burning the log dries out accumulated creosote so it flakes away more easily. This makes it easier for a chimney sweep to perform the full cleaning.
A chimney sweep examines the outside and inside of a chimney to determine its condition. They then advise the homeowner on needed repairs and estimates cleaning and repair costs. Chimney sweeps then cleans the chimney and either perform repairs or recommends a mason to handle the task.
A chimney sweep usually takes about an hour to perform a complete chimney cleaning. If a home has multiple fireplaces or a very tall chimney, it may take longer. It can also take longer than an hour to remove extreme creosote buildup from a chimney. Additionally, the job will likely take longer if repair work is needed.
The chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins danced on the rooftops in London. The song and dance number from the 1964 Mary Poppins movie was led by Dick Van Dyke and is called Step in Time.
If you have the necessary tools, are comfortable working at elevated heights, and are confident you can complete the task, you can sweep your own chimney. You can save money by doing so, but you will most likely still have to pay to have the chimney it inspected for insurance purposes.
Chimney sweeps still exist and provide a service that’s needed by homeowners who have fireplaces or wood stoves. However, chimney sweeps don’t dress and act like the actors who played chimney sweeps in the Mary Poppins movie. They're regular people who wear normal work clothes.
In Victorian times, chimney sweeps used a process similar to the one that’s used today. Brushes on rods were inserted into chimneys and turned to knock soot out of the chimney. Additionally, poor apprentice children were sent into chimney openings with scrapers and brushes to perform a lot of the work.
Chimneys that are attached to gas furnaces still need to be cleaned annually by a chimney sweep. While burning gas creates a lighter soot and makes less mess, the chimney still needs to be cleaned each year to prevent fires.
To become a certified chimney sweep, you can take a training course, such as the one offered by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Certification is a three-step process. It involves book study, an online or in-person review, and finally an online or in-person exam.
Not all chimney sweeps are licensed, however, choosing a certified chimney sweep can help ensure the cleaning of your chimney follows industry standards. When you hire a chimney sweep who's certified by the CSIA, you can be assured they've earned the necessary qualifications.
If it’s been a year or longer since your last chimney sweeping, it’s time to have it done. Some other signs to look for include smoke coming out of your fireplace instead of going up the chimney, soot falling down onto the hearth, or that fires don’t burn properly.
Choose loose-fitting clothes and apply a misting of black spray paint in spots to mimic the appearance of soot. Dust black face powder on your cheeks. Attach pipe cleaners to the end of an old broom handle to form a spiky circle, then spray paint it black to copy a chimney sweep’s tool.
There are three legends about the luckiness of chimney sweeps. One saved King William’s life and was invited to a royal wedding. One fell from a roof and was rescued by a woman who fell in love with him, and one rescued King George III, who then decreed all chimney sweeps lucky.
Chimney sweeps in Victorian England earned about ten shillings. One shilling was equal to 12 pence, and 10 shillings multiplied by 12 pence comes to 120 pence. So, Victorian chimney sweeps earned 120 pence, which in today's currency converts to just under $1.65 USD.