I had a conversation recently with someone who had moved to Vienna, Austria just a few months ago, and was still finding her way around.
One of the subjects we spoke about was the way many apartment buildings in Vienna have a chimney sweep who comes to every apartment at least once a year to check on and clean the chimney.
Feeling a little insecure about letting a man in her apartment while her husband was at work (*NOTE: Vienna does have female chimney sweeps as well), she asked me “Do you have to allow a chimney sweep into your home in Vienna? Or can you just turn them away?”
If you have the same question about chimney sweeps in Vienna too, here then is what you need to know.
Especially as, if you do not have your chimney checked at least once a year, there could be some pretty horrible consequences.
It is mandatory to allow a chimney sweep into your home in Vienna, Austria?
Yes, you must allow a chimney sweep into your home in Vienna.
This is for safety reasons, as chimneys all over Vienna must be regularly cleaned and kept in good working order.
In many apartment buildings, you will see a notice posted on the building’s notice board (see example below) informing the building’s residents when the chimney sweep will be making their visits for the next year.
The notice will usually include several dates, which are the dates on which the chimney sweep will be visiting your building.
You must be home for at least one of these dates, or make arrangements for somebody else to be there.
That way your apartment chimney can be regularly checked and swept, and any potential problems dealt with before they become actual problems.
Why is it important to get your chimney swept?
- If a chimney isn’t swept and checked regularly, deposits can build up inside the chimney causing the pipe to narrow. When that happens, it is more difficult for smoke, fumes and hazardous chemicals to be properly eliminated from your living space, which could cause serious health problems.
- Fires can begin if a chimney has a blockage that is not cleared, which could result in the total loss of your apartment or building.
Chimney sweeps in Vienna
Interestingly too, the Viennese are quite proud of their chimney sweeps, and not only being one, but also meeting one is a pretty big deal.
That is because having your chimney swept has been mandated as a city law in Vienna since 1432, so it is historically relevant.
Seeing a chimney sweep is also supposed to confer good luck on you.
So much so, when you go into Vienna stores and supermarkets close to New Year, you will see good luck charms (called Glücksbringer or ‘good luck bringers’) for sale featuring, among other things, chimney sweeps.
Sure, when I first moved to Vienna, I thought the little man dressed in black and holding a four-leaf clover was a leprechaun (and yes, I wondered why he was an Austrian good luck charm!??).
Nope, he is a Viennese chimney sweep.
Buy one of these charms and give it to a friend or a neighbor, and you may just have conferred good luck on them for the next year.
One of the reasons the Viennese believe that among several others is that, according to legend, a chimney sweep was once cleaning a chimney in Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace when he overheard people talking about a plot to kill the Kaiser.
He informed Palace authorities, the plot was stopped and the Kaiser’s life saved. No wonder the Viennese believe having a chimney sweep in your home will confer good luck on you, eh?
In Vienna, there are currently 150 licensed chimney sweeps who take care of all the chimneys in the Austrian capital city.
It is also not a job any of them take lightly, as each one must go through six years of training before they are deemed completely trained for the job.
And, by the way, it is perfectly safe to allow a chimney sweep in Vienna into your home. The one who handles my building’s chimneys comes at least once a year, and he’s lovely.