Ables Top Hat celebrates 40 years in business
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Doug Ables started his chimney sweeping business in Brady, Texas in 1980 to fill a personal need for someone to clean the chimney of his house.
This year, Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweeps in Copperas Cove celebrates 40 years of providing service. Ables moved to Copperas Cove in 1986 and worked for the KOOV radio station for a bit until resuming chimney sweeping full-time in 1988.
Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweeps is so named because of the top hat Ables wears- a nod to the older chimney sweeps, like those portrayed in the Disney film “Mary Poppins.”
Ables is a certified chimney sweep and also offers air duct cleaning, dryer vent cleaning and animal removal services in addition to chimney repairs and other chimney services.
“It used to be fun when it was easy to do it. I’m getting old now,” Ables said. “It’s fun because it’s something unusual people don’t know anything about, and so I’ve studied and learned things all about it.”
Ables said he figured he is the oldest chimney sweep in the area and possibly the state.
“I’ve seen a lot of chimneys; heard a lot of stories; and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry as well,” Ables said. “Back when I started, mostly, it was just masonry fireplaces. Now, you don’t hardly- it’s rare to see a masonry fireplace, and they’re prefabricated units and smaller units. They’re made in a factory and just stuck in a house. Every one has its different things you have to look out for, so it’s interesting to stay on top of things and figure out what’s what and how to cure people’s problems and things like that.”
Ables said the busiest time of the year is the fall, when people want their chimneys cleaned before the holidays.
When Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweeps first arrives at a house, Ables said he asks whether the homeowners have used the chimney and whether the chimney has given the homeowner any problems.
If a customer has not ever used a fireplace, Ables spends time explaining how the homeowner should use a fireplace.
“My job is to keep them safe,” Ables said. “Anybody can run a brush up a chimney, and there’s some others in the area where they’ll just run a brush up and they’re out of there and that’s out. That is not all it takes. You have to explain to people how to use it and how to be safe using it and how it’s properly maintained.”
One of the main things Ables stresses is the importance of a chimney cap which keeps out water as well as animals.
Ables also shared why it is so important to clean a chimney and how doing so prevents a fire. When wood is burned in a fireplace, as in a firepit, unburned wood particles float up. In a chimney, they stick to the walls of the chimney and build up in creosote and soot. If a fire is hot enough and burns high enough, it can catch these materials on fire and result in a house fire.
“A chimney sweep’s job is half-cleaning and half-education because if they don’t know how to use it, there’s going to be problems,” Ables said.
More information about chimneys, dryer vents and air ducts and the importance of cleaning them, people can visit https://ableschimneysweeps.com.
To make an appointment, Doug Ables can be reached at 254-547-6087.