A Clean Sweep: Third Generation Tolson in the Family Fireplace Business | Characteristics

In 1977, David Tolson and his sister, Anna Neace, started Chimney Sweep Cleaners.

They had seen a story in the Messenger-Inquirer about chimney sweeps in another state wearing black coats with tails and top hats, a traditional chimney sweep outfit that dated back to 1700s in England.

So they tried it out here, driving a 1951 Studebaker from job to job.

And the romantic image of chimney sweeps, inspired by the 1964 film “Mary Poppins”, caught on.

In 1985, the company was doing 25 to 30 chimney and fireplace repairs per week.

Chimney Sweep Cleaners was a success and today Roman Tolson, David’s grandson, still operates it.

But the name has been changed to Chimney Cleaning & Repair.

Tolson said he started working with his father, Kelly Tolson, at the company in 2012 and took over the company the following year.

“Customers ask me why I don’t dress,” he said. “I try not to be too uncomfortable when I’m working. And this outfit is not comfortable.

Top hats keep things from falling from a chimney onto a chimney sweep’s head, Tolson said.

“I have a top hat,” he said. “But I’m not wearing it.”

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes to clean most chimneys, Tolson said.

“The technology has really improved,” he said.

Two years ago, as his father died of pancreatic cancer, Tolson said he took time off to take care of himself.

And then last year, the COVID issues shut it down for much of the year.

But Tolson is back in business this year.

“I have regulars who ask me to clean their chimneys every year,” he said. “But if it doesn’t need to be cleaned, I’ll tell them free of charge.” “

He doesn’t accept credit cards to cut spending, Tolson said.

“It’s a very good deal,” he said.

But Tolson is also working on a bachelor’s degree in information technology, which he started last year when COVID precautions kept him from working.

“I like to work for myself,” he said.

In addition to cleaning the chimneys, Tolson also rebuilds them and replaces the bricks when needed.

He notices that there are more factory-built chimneys today.

“People don’t seem to be as skilled as they were years ago,” Tolson said.

He said he worked within an approximate 55 mile radius of Owensboro, Ky., But he does not work in Indiana.

“My goal is to eventually have a crew,” Tolson said. “But I prefer quality over quantity in my work. “

Chimney sweeps sometimes find more than soot in a chimney.

“In 2017, I found a fireplace full of bats,” Tolson said. “But it was illegal to touch them because it was breeding season.”

He said, “I took animal skeletons out of the chimneys, but never a whole carcass.”

Tolson can be reached at 270-925-0947.

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