The Chimney Sweeps Act of 1788

In 1788, King George III of Britain passed an act entitled “An Act for the Better Regulation of Chimney Sweeps and their Apprentices.” The act was primarily intended to protect the rights and safety of the chimney sweep apprentices. Generally, these “apprentices” were indentured young boys around the age of six who had been sold to the sweep by their parents.

These boys often endured heartbreaking conditions. Since the master sweep was an adult man – too large to fit inside a chimney – he would send his apprentices up the chimney to scrape and clean creosote off of the chimney’s interior. Because the small boys were often afraid to climb up into the small space, it was not uncommon for the master sweep to ignite a fire as a means of “encouraging” the child to scramble through his work quickly. Many boys were traumatized by this work, and because chimneys of this era featured many odd angles and cramped interiors, some even got stuck and died as a result of asphyxiation. Unfortunately, the abuse doesn’t stop there – these boys faced miserable living conditions.

In opposition of this child abuse, the aforementioned act (more often referred to by its abbreviation, “The Chimney Sweeps Act”) was passed in 1788. This was the first act of many that demanded better treatment of chimney sweep apprentices, until the apprenticeship of anyone under the age of 21 was abolished entirely in 1840.

How Does a Chimney Fire Start?

As the chill of winter sets in, you can’t wait to start using your fireplace again. Naturally, you stock up on firewood and consider yourself prepared for a cozy winter. But are you really?

There’s more to getting your fireplace ready for winter than just buying or chopping wood. You’ve got to get your chimney ready for winter too, because there’s a good chance that last year’s firewood caked your fireplace in hazardous residues that need to be removed.

You may be asking yourself, “what residues?

Well, when firewood burns, it produces a number of by-products including smoke, water vapor, hydrocarbon, wood particles, gases, minerals and tar fog – all of which culminate into one ugly substance known as creosote. Creosote is highly combustible and is the number one cause of chimney fires.

If you think your fireplace is ready for winter, think again. You may want to have your chimney evaluated and swept! Contact us today!

History of the Chimney Sweep

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Chimney sweeping has been around for as long as chimneys have!

This week we’ve compiled a few fun facts about your friendly chimney sweep and the history of his existence. Enjoy!

In the 1800’s, boys as young as 5 years old were often indentured as chimney sweeps because they were better at climbing up the flue than their larger adult counterparts.

  • The phrase “to light a fire under you” originated from the chimney sweep practice.

It was commonplace for the Master Sweep to light a small fire beneath the child to “encourage” him to scramble up the chimney and work quickly.

  • Chimney sweeps are good luck!

In Great Britain it is considered to be good luck for a bride to see a chimney sweep on her wedding day. In Germany, the chimney sweep represents a symbol of luck for the new year. In Poland and Croatia it is considered good luck to touch one of our buttons when passing a chimney sweep in the street.

  • Chimney sweeping became an established profession in the 17th century.

It was around this time that people discovered that it was possible to live in a warm home rather than a chilly one! The Industrial Revolution allowed the chimney sweep profession to thrive, as coal became the number one source for fuel (which made for a lot of chimney soot).

Need a stroke of good luck? Maybe it’s time to have your chimney cleaned! Contact us today!

The Inside Scoop on Chimney Waterproofing

Believe it or not, water damage is the number one reason why your chimney may be in need of repair. To combat this issue, we recommend waterproofing your chimney – it’s a relatively simple process that will keep your chimney problem-free for a longer period of time. Here’s the inside scoop on waterproofing chimneys:

  1. Measure the surface area. First, we measure the surface area of the chimney to determine the amount of material that is needed to complete the waterproofing process.
  2. Clean the chimney. The next step to successful waterproofing is to clean any existing soot or creosote from the chimney. It is also important to remove any mold, rust, or dirt before proceeding.
  3. Protect the surrounding area. If water repellent is applied to the wrong area, such as the roof shingles or house siding, it can cause undesirable discoloration. To prevent this from occurring, we must cover any non-target surfaces with a canvas drop cloth.
  4. Repair minor faults. If there are any minor cracks in the chimney’s mortar, they must be sealed. At this time, we also address more significant damage that might require tuckpointing or brick replacement.
  5. Apply water repellent. Now that the chimney has been appropriately prepared, we can apply water repellent. Patience is key at this stage of the process, as multiple coats are required to saturate the chimney. The greater the absorption, the longer your waterproof chimney seal will last.

 

If you’d like to waterproof your chimney for the upcoming fall & winter season, contact us today!

More About Chimneys

There are certain things we all love about chimneys and wood heating, including how it creates a comfy, inviting ambiance using natural, renewable fuel. With the Oregon Chimney Guys on your side, you can make the most of it, while avoiding flu fires, huge repair bills, or a smokey, stinky house. We’re here to provide reliable maintenance and repair, so you can enjoy the all the warm fuzzy feelings about wood heating, without the worry.

How often do I need my chimney swept?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends a yearly inspection and cleaning. Free standing wood stoves or fire place inserts used to heat the home should be inspected and cleaned if needed every year. Regular open fireplaces need to be maintained and cleaned on a consistent basis as well. Usually a cleaning is needed for every cord of wood burned or at least 2-3 years.

If I don’t burn do I still need my heating system evaluated?

Yes. There are various problems that can be present that are in no way associated with burning. A proper evaluation can identify these problems. Such problems are bees in the pipe or chimney, decaying bricks, rusting flu or damper, cracks in the fire box, etc.

Why evaluation?

Evaluation for your chimney is like a physical for your body. The goal of a chimney evaluation is the same as a physical, information. Chimney health is the same as physical; the sooner you find a problem the easier (faster and less expensive) it is to resolve.

More about Moss Removal

The Northwest is a hostile environment for roofs. All the “liquid sunshine” we get makes our roofs damp, which causes moss and algae grow like crazy. Not only are they an eyesore, but they reduce the life of your roof.

So what’s the answer to mold and algae? Prevention. The best plan of attack is to never let the moss and algae take root. And with a yearly maintenance spray of your roof, we can help keep the moss and algae from ever growing.

And if your roof is already being taken over, give us a call. We’ll remove the moss and algae with a thorough wash, and then come back regularly to make sure they never return.

What are my options?


Step one: Prevention, let us treat your roof with a zinc spray every year to keep the moss and algae from ever growing.

Step two: You have moss and Algae. Let us manually (gently as possible) remove the moss and do a light pressure wash to remove the algae. Then we will do the zinc spray to keep it from coming back.

Why is algae bad for roofs?


The algae feed on inorganic filler materials such as calcium carbonate in asphalt shingle. This loosens the granules that the inorganic material holds in place. When the asphalt granules are loosed and fall off your roof your roof life is greatly reduced.

Why is moss bad for roofs?


Moss holds moisture on the roof, it lifts shingles and draws moisture up underneath the shingles, causes
water to back up in valley producing leaks, clogs gutters and downspouts, produces airborne spores which produces moss all over the neighborhood, and when it is knocked off it takes shingle particles with it. Plus, the look brings down property value.

More About Dryer Vents

Did you know that your dryer’s lint trap can’t catch all the lint? The rest gets into the vent and crowds the opening, stealing efficiency and raising your chances of having a fire. In fact, there are over 15,000 lint-caused fires every year in the U.S.

Now for the good news. The opposite is also true: clean, safe vents save you money. And the only thing standing between you and clean vents is a phone call.

Here’s how it works: call us out and get clean vents. Simple as that.


How do I know that my clothes dryer vent needs to be cleaned?

Well, if your clothes take longer than 30 minutes to dry for a normal load, and your clothes dryer gets warm (or hot) to the touch while it is running…It’s your dryer vent that is probably clogged and needs to be un-clogged.

If you are at all unsure just give us a call and we can do an evaluation.

How often should my dryer vent be cleaned?


It all depends on the following:
1. How many loads of laundry does the dryer handle?
2. What kind of laundry is washed: lots of lint-producing items, such as diapers or towels?
3. How many elbows are there?
4. How long is the venting?

The best way to determine the cleaning status is to monitor the drying time of typical laundry loads. When the loads take over 30-45 minutes to dry, it’s time to clean out the vent. We suggest that you get it cleaned at least every two years.

If you are at all unsure just give us a call and we can do an evaluation.