NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - It is not Santa Claus coming down that chimney, it is James Linder, chimney sweep. In this case Linder is making his annual call at Rachel McLaine's house.
"A friend of mine had the company at one time and I started helping him and his health got bad and he handed it over to me and I've been doing it ever since," said Linder.
Most people use their fireplace year after year, giving no thought to the grime that is building up along those chimney walls. Think about it, when was the last time you had your chimney cleaned?
Linder became a chimney sweep working on the job. He assumed the business from his old boss complete with brushes, ladders, tarps and a vacuum cleaner. One might question the viability of running a chimney sweep business here in East Texas where it is mostly sunny eight or nine months out of the year.
"It's real important to get your chimney cleaned because of fire hazards. You could start a fire in your chimney and not know what's in there. A lot of time creosoting is in there and that's highly flammable and you could take a chance of burning your house down. It's majorly important to get your chimney cleaned and they also recommend that you put screens on your chimney this year because it's been so dry," said Linder.
Linder's client list includes a lot of repeat customers like McLaine who grew up in a house with a fireplace and uses her own frequently. "I use it from the first cool spell til it gets too hot takes a lot of wood though as you can see outside," said McLaine smilingly.
Lynn Steptoe is an employee with Linder's 'Soot-N-Such' and says his work allows him "to help people out so they don't have chimney fires."
A good chimney sweep does not mind getting dirty, "Aw, just willing to get dirty and have some pretty good eyes, really not a whole lot of skill to it really it's just being able to climb the roof and all that kind of good stuff," said Linder.
A good chimney sweep does not mind working in close spaces, "It's very claustrophobic and very dirty."
A good chimney sweep is a stickler for details, "We look for any cracks in the flue, if you have a firebox we check your flash and everything and make sure you're not taking any kind of water damage or anything like that."
The job at McLaine's house was considered a fairly light job, imagine what he goes through when it is not. "I've actually gotten up to 16 gallons out of one chimney."
Being able to own his own business keeps Linder motivated, though he says working in soot all day can wear you down. Nevertheless, he says he has no regrets, "I've been doing it on my own now for 4 years." "I'm glad somebody does it besides me," added McLaine laughingly.
Chimney Sweep, Somebody's Got To Do It.