Chimney sweeps have been an important part of keeping homes safe and healthy for centuries. With the increased use of coal, chimney sweeps became a symbol of good home and good health, as they restored clean air in homes. Your chimney is a vital ventilation system that allows smoke, toxins, and hazardous fumes to escape from the house. With a clean chimney, all of these hazardous fumes can freely leave your home.
Over time, creosote builds up in a dirty chimney. Creosote is a black, sticky residue that remains inside the chimney when wood burns or when there is not enough ventilation. The problem with creosote is that it is highly flammable, making it one of the main causes of chimney fires. Today's chimney sweep has come a long way since children armed with brushes were sent to the chimney ducts.
Professional chimney sweeps educate themselves in the codes and science behind chimneys and fireplaces. Chimney sweeps now do more than just clean a chimney; they diagnose and repair problems, repair all types of chimneys, and install chimneys and fireplaces. In Britain, sweeping teachers took apprentices, typically orphaned or workhouse children, and trained them to climb chimneys. In the German States, master sweeps belonged to commercial guilds and did not use climbing children. Children climbers were used in Italy, Belgium and France.
With the start of the Industrial Revolution, coal became the main fuel for domestic heating. When overcrowded cities began to produce misty smoke from the fires of factories and homes, the work of a chimney sweep was essential to prevent fires from occurring in the home. When the interior of a chimney becomes clogged or partially blocked due to soot buildup, chimney fires can occur. Charcoal creates sticky soot that often doesn't come off easily, and chimney edges need to be scraped off where soot builds up. Traditionally, a young child was bought from his poor parents by a sweeping teacher, who he would call “the child's apprentice”; but what really happened was that the child became, in essence, a slave who had no realistic opportunity to advance in life. Children who worked as sweepers rarely lived beyond the median age.
Children's chimney sweeps were required to crawl through chimneys that were only about 18 inches wide. Sometimes, their ruthless masters would light bonfires to incite the sweeps to climb faster. While cleaning the chimney, the master sweeps gradually developed the practice of sending young children to check if the chimney was free of harmful creosote deposits. In 1864, the English Parliament finally passed the “Chimney Sweep Regulation Act”, which made it illegal to send a child to a chimney. As taller buildings were built, there was a need for more chimney professionals to frequently clean sticky deposits emanating from used embers.
Over time, the use of children's chimney sweeps became more popular, especially in London when building regulations were changed and chimneys had narrow openings. Today's professional chimney sweeps aren't covered in soot but they're educated in chimney and fireplace science as well as building codes. In the 18th century, the use of children's chimney sweeps was common; however, the use of fireplaces in Great Britain goes back much further. In the United States, two commercial organizations help regulate the industry: The Chimney Safety Institute of America and The National Chimney Sweep Guild. Children were used to sweep chimneys because of their tiny size which allowed them to fit in very tight enclosed spaces that required cleaning inaccessible to an adult. Today, the chimney sweep is a highly respected professional that helps provide homeowners and businesses with safe operation of heating systems, fireplaces, stoves, fireplaces and all types of chimneys. Scrotal cancer was found only in chimney sweeps so it was called “chimney sweep cancer” in university hospitals.
One of the most famous literary works about chimney sweeps is William Blake's poem “The Chimney Sweeper”. But when people used chimneys that had been unused for a long period without proper cleaning and care household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by clogged chimneys became commonplace. At this time, chimney sweeps became known for bringing clean fresh air to the house and were associated with good home and good health. He looked to Edinburgh Scotland where sweeps were regulated by police climbing was not allowed and chimneys were swept by Master Sweep himself by throwing bundles of rags up and down the chimney. While many chimney sweeps died of suffocation after being trapped in the chimney for an unreasonably long time others died from soot or ash that fell on them while working.