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Philadelphia Chimney Scientist Joe Ochal on When to Clean Your Chimney

Joe Ochal, Founder of The Chimney Scientists, a full-service chimney and fireplace company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, isn’t your typical microbiologist. From humble beginnings, the Montgomery County-based entrepreneur first started learning about chimneys while working to achieve his undergraduate degree in economics at Temple University.  

Needing money, Ochal worked for his uncle’s fireplace showroom cleaning chimneys, and the rest was history. It became his anointed nickname: when he came to class or lab with chimney dirt all over his body, his friends would call him, “The Chimney Scientist.”

Ochal created his chimney cleaning company all while completing his Master’s Degree in Microbiology at Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Biomedical Sciences. Such dedication shines through in his business, which seeks to become the number-one chimney cleaning company in the United States.

“I love home heating: the smells, fire, and popping and crackling sounds all give off a feeling of hygge,” he stated. 

 Combining Ochal’s interests and areas of expertise, The Chimney Scientists is a company dedicated to efficient, safe, and climate-friendly chimney repair services –especially on Ochal’s favorite, wood chimneys, which are known for their efficiency and affordability.

 Taught by his uncle how to use a wood-burning stove, he came to appreciate the affordability of burning wood for home heating. The affordable price and the effectiveness of wood stoves are exactly why he still loves them over all others to this day.

The Science of Chimney Cleaning

Nowadays, Ochal does far more chimney cleaning than scientific work, as his primary occupation is running The Chimney Scientists with his current staff of over 20, but still incorporates a level of science and technology in the company’s processes. However, that does not mean that Ochal hasn’t made chimney cleaning a whole science. 

The Chimney Scientists are deeply concerned about the initiatives behind chimney cleaning, both a science and a craft. To become the best chimney cleaners, Ochal and his scientists needed to ask themselves hard questions and answer them like scientists. 

As any good scientist knows, neglecting the core questions on any topic leads to misunderstanding, and for Ochal and The Chimney Scientists, that’s not an option. All of the inspectors strive to ensure that they ask the right questions and think critically to find the most valuable and trustworthy answers to them. And in the art of chimney cleaning, Ochal and his team have the answers.

The Chimney Scientists on When to Clean the Chimney 

 How often should a chimney be cleaned? When should the chimney flue be cleaned? Does chimney cleaning need to be done routinely? What are the dangers associated with not cleaning the flue? 

Ochal and The Chimney Scientists know that chimneys build up soot, the fancy term for soot in a wood-burning chimney flue is creosote. This soot can increase the risk of smoke inhalation, harmful allergens, and house fires. That is why they recommend, at the very least, that chimneys be inspected annually and before heavy use in the winter months. They even keep a 5-10 page report on every customer’s chimney and check for changes at each annual appointment. 

The Chimney Scientists recommend that owners of fireplaces and chimneys get them inspected yearly – partly because inspecting flues might lead inspectors to conclude that they might not need cleaning after all, potentially saving customers money on services. If they need repair to provide a safe wood-burning fireplace, the company offers many different cutting edge options to cost effectively get your chimney flue safe for use again. 

Ochal and his Chimney Scientists have also determined that there are other times when an inspection is necessary. For instance, suppose there is a blockage from objects like bird nests or bee hives. In that case, they can help find an animal removal company and come clean afterward. Inspections are essential in answering “is my fireplace safe to use?” Without an inspection utilizing specialized video equipment, there is no way of knowing if your flue could withstand a fire caused by creosote or a bird’s nest. 

In all cases, chimney cleaning is essential to customers because it saves them money on heating and reduces the chance of a home fire. When a chimney is clean, it works more efficiently, lowering the heating costs of usage – bringing us back to a core reason Ochal founded The Chimney Scientists in the first place. 

The Chimney Scientists are dedicated to the science of chimney cleaning. They understand that not all chimneys will have the exact causes or similar symptoms. That is why Ochal and his employees believe that the best time, day, and season to get a chimney inspection is now!

Owning a chimney is usually inherited and doesn’t come with a user manual. Therefore, seeking consultation with The Chimney Scientists is crucial because they can see problems with a chimney that others may not necessarily notice. Their inspectors take the time to explain the proper use and maintenance of a fireplace so their customers can enjoy the ambiance and warmth with family and friends.

About Joe Ochal and The Chimney Scientists

Joe Ochal is the Founder of The Chimney Scientists, serving the Philadelphia area. The Chimney Scientists is a full-service chimney and fireplace company that provides chimney and fireplace repairs, inspections, and cleanings, as well as historical restorations. To find out more about chimney repairs, please visit