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A Brief History of Chimney Sweeping

The craft of sweeping chimneys changed immensely since its early origins during the Ancient Roman era. It is surprising to learn how brutal the job was before modern technology and regulations. Before laws and regulations were introduced in the United Kingdom (UK) during the Industrial Revolution (1760-1830), the majority of chimney sweeps across the globe were young children. These kids, called “chimney climbing boys,” began training as young as age six to work in hazardous conditions. Fortunately, those days are well in the past. Education and technology helped improve conditions and safety. At Atlas Chimney, our chimney sweeps have been trained and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and use specialized tools to ensure safety. Since the history of chimney sweeping in the UK is similar to that of the USA, we want to tell you about some of the most important years in this history.


During this year, the British Parliament began discussing how to regulate chimney sweeping. According to a professional chimney service in London and South Essex, Clean Sweep, an age limit of eight for chimney sweeps became law. However, this went mostly ignored. After the turn of the century, George Smart invented the first mechanical sweeper. Groups promoted this new method of chimney sweeping and lobbied to Parliament for stricter laws.


Around a decade earlier, Joseph Glass improved on George Smart’s invention, creating the modern chimney sweeping brush. More and more people used this new tool, lessening the need for small children who could fit into chimneys. Parliament passed a law in this year saying children must agree in front of a magistrate to be a chimney sweeper.


An act of Parliament protected those under 21 years old from chimney sweeping. However, this was not taken seriously because it was not law. Lobbyists continued to press Parliament into declaring this act into law, and over the next 35 years, controls over chimney sweeping were tightened significantly. In 1875, the Chimney Sweepers Act became law in order to stop child labor.

Atlas Chimney is thankful for the many improvements to the technology and other working conditions in the chimney industry. If you live in the Austin area, contact us for your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.

All About Creosote

The last thing you want to deal with during fireplace season (or anytime, for that matter!) is a chimney fire. However, if you neglected to schedule a professional chimney sweeping before the arrival of cold weather, you may be in danger of this devastating event. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states, dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires. Although soot and debris can lead to a chimney fire, the main cause of a chimney fire is creosote. Atlas Chimney would like to tell you more about creosote by answering some frequently asked questions.

All About Creosote - Austin TX - Atlas ChimneyHow does creosote form in my chimney?

Creosote is a natural result from the process of burning wood. As the byproducts of combustion like smoke, gases, water vapor, hydrocarbon, tar fog, unburned wood particles, and other assorted minerals leave the fireplace and flow up into the cooler upper walls of the chimney, condensation occurs. Creosote is the result of this condensation and forms a residue that sticks to the interior walls of your chimney.

What does creosote look like?

Varying in appearance, creosote is either black or brown. Its texture can be shiny and hard, crusty and flaky, or gummy and sticky. Atlas Chimney has seen all three different textures in the same chimneys.

Why is creosote so dangerous?

No matter what creosote looks like, it is always highly combustible. If you have large accumulations of creosote deposits in your chimney, a chimney fire can be easily ignited if the flue reaches a high enough temperature.

What encourages the accumulation of creosote?

You could have a restricted air supply by closing the glass doors and failing to open the damper wide enough. Since there will not be enough make-up air to quickly move heated smoke up the chimney, the smoke and other byproducts of combustion will stay longer inside the chimney to form more creosote. Cooler than normal chimney temperatures is another related factor that leads to large deposits of creosote accumulating in your chimney. If you burn unseasoned wood, you can also end up with large amounts of creosote. Since unseasoned wood has not been fully dried, your fire uses so much energy to burn off the water that is trapped in the logs. This results in cooler smoke going up the chimney, which is much more likely to produce a large amount of creosote.

Be sure your chimney is creosote-free and ready for fireplace season! Contact us at Atlas Chimney to schedule a professional chimney sweeping today.

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