South-Central Kentucky Dirty Jobs: "Chimney Sweep"

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It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

As Daniel Kemp continues to try to find some of the area's dirtiest jobs, he headed out with a couple of local chimney sweeps to get a closer look at this dirty, but necessary task in his special assignment, Dirty Jobs.

"Chim chiminey Chim chiminey Chim chim cher-ee! A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be," sings Dick Van Dyke.

Perhaps when Dick Van Dyke cheerfully sang about his life as a chimney sweep in the Disney classic "Mary Poppins," he may've left out one important line.

That working as one is a dirty job!

"People have been heating with fire forever, and so my job is to mainly ensure that a chimney is operating safely," explained David Bunch, a local chimney sweep.

David Bunch is a certified chimney sweep and along with his brother, Jon, they carry on a job their dad started doing 18 years ago.

"It's kind of started out as a little family businesses--started real, real small," assured Jon Bunch.

But on this trip, I'm tagging along to learn just what a sweep goes through to keep your home safe.

"The main concern with the safety of your chimney is one, to stop a chimney fire to not have a situation where a chimney fire can begin," David Bunch said.

It's a fairly simple process that requires a lot of well, sweeping.

Then any lose dirt and soot is vacuumed and dumped, and a drop cloth is hung over the base of the chimney.

"What we're trying to do here is keep it from coming down and spilling into the living space," David Bunch said.

Jon carefully works from the top of the chimney, where he's sometimes greeted with a few surprises.

"We've found everything--dead animals, squirrels, live animals, bails of hay stuck down in a chimney," Jon admitted.

With a long brush, he loosens the buildup that David and I clean out from inside the house.

"Are you the next Mike Rowe?" David asks.

This quick vacuum and inspection has this chimney again clean, and safe

And while the Bunch brothers say meeting new people is why they like their unique line of work, every chimney sweep has his reason.

"There's a whole world at your feet. But who gets to see it but the birds, the stars and the chimney sweeps."

David Bunch adds that according to national code, you should have your chimney swept once a year, especially if you're using it as a major heat source.

And you have any interesting Dirty Job ideas for Daniel to try, send him an e-mail at

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