My New Year Resolution Was To Become A Chimney Sweep – I’ve Never Looked Back

“Oh. Well. That’s… err.. different, I guess!”

I distinctly remember people’s reactions when I told them I wanted to sweep chimneys. They were pretty much all the same; a mixture of bemusement and amusement.

But my mind was made up. And far from it being some typical ‘New Year, New Me’ fad, I was deadly serious.

The idea had percolated for a few months previously, ever since I’d moved into a new house. Well, new to me – the house itself had been there since the 1890s.

It had plenty of original features, but also possessed an old gas fire, which just looked rubbish and out of place to me. I wanted to put an original open coal fire back in, so started researching it.

Where it all started – with a rubbish old gas fire

I spent hours looking at designs and so on, and fell in love with them. They just looked so ornate, and I even learnt how to read the makers’ marks so I could trace the year of production.

So far, so easy. But trying to get one fitted was an utter nightmare.

Of the few that bothered to call me back, hardly anyone wanted to touch it. Pretty much every installer was pushing me towards a multi fuel stove, which I didn’t want.

I can now understand why, but as a regular member of public at the time with no experience of solid fuel installations, I found it baffling.

And very few actually explained properly what the potential issues were. So I started having to read up on it myself. And, by default, was becoming more immersed in it.

That’s when I had a ‘eureka’ moment.

See, I’d been wanting to do something different for a while. After two decades of working in offices, I was ready for a change.

So my mind started wandering towards installing fireplaces. However, it soon became apparent that my lack of experience would be a barrier to even accessing the relevant course at that time.

However, you could join this particular course I was interested in if you were a registered chimney sweep. And that immediately appealed.

I figured that, if nothing else, I could learn how to sweep my own chimney.

So that New Year, having thought about it over and over, I decided to take the plunge and said to myself “This year, I’m going to train to become a registered chimney sweep.”

And unlike most New Year resolutions, I was going to stick to it. And I’m so glad I did.

Sure, it was hard at first. As a newbie, you’re just deluged with all the rules, regulations and guidance relating to chimneys.

And it’s not black and white when it comes to chimney regs – there’s more shades of grey than in an E.L. James trilogy!

Training to come a chimney sweeping – with shiny new kit!

The myth that “oh, it’s just about shoving a brush up” was well and truly shattered.

What I do know is that lack of experience in manual work is no barrier to becoming a good sweep.

To be frank, absolutely anyone can be taught to sweep, inspect or test chimneys to a high standard. However, you need is to have a keenness for learning and an inquisitive mind really helps.

Also, you need to be a good ‘people person’ and understand what makes them tick.

It’s not just about the technical part of the job, you need to provide good, all-round service. It’s about the parts the customer sees just as much as what they can’t see.

That’s the bit that people remember most. It’s about your attitude, outlook and values.

So if you’re reading this, wondering whether to take the plunge, my advice is simple.

If you have the right attitude and are determined – Go For It!

For those reading in the North West of England, we have opportunities available via our Mr Soot Training Academy Programme.

Deciding to strike a different path isn’t a walk in the park. You’ve got to be brave, understand that it’s a journey and be ready to learn.

But above all, you’ve got to decide to take action.

I did and I’ve never looked back…

David is now a qualified chimney sweep, registered solid fuel installer and the owner of Mr Soot Chimney Sweep. He is also now a Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps on-site trainer and a Business Mentor for The Growth Company.

Published by Mr Soot Chimney Sweep

We are registered chimney sweeps serving large parts of the North West of England. Members of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, we have HETAS Approved Sweep status and are registered solid fuel installers.

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