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Billy Sweet of Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep


Billy Sweet, owner of Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep in Swampscott. By Kiley Jacques – photograph by Patrick Marasco


The tools: [Our] traditional set of rods and brushes are the same type you see Dick Van Dyke and his fellow sweeps dancing with when they sing “Step in Time” in the movie Mary Poppins. Of course, we don’t actually go up inside the flue as they do in the movie. And wouldn’t everyone like a girlfriend like Mary Poppins!


The clientele: We like to educate our customers, and a smart customer has us come every year. But before a customer has talked with us, they may never have had a chimney cleaned before. Fire is the ultimate teacher.


Notable findings: We have found some funny stuff inside the chimney…old empty beer and liquor bottles, a Playboy magazine in the fireplace of a boy’s bedroom. I [did] the chimney of the neighbor of a man I later found out had roomed with my father in the polio ward of Children’s Hospital some 70 years ago. That was kind of neat.


Job satisfaction: I enjoy the view from the rooftop! I enjoy erecting an elaborate scaffold on a complex roof to provide a safe workplace at the top of the chimney, building fancy chimneys, and solving homeowner’s problems, so they can enjoy a fire safely. But mostly I enjoy our customers’ satisfaction in a job well done.