Chimney Scientists: Conshohocken Resident Turns Passion into Business

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Images via Fishtown Creative.

In 2011, as a college student, Conshohocken resident Joe Ochal worked in his uncle’s fireplace showroom to make some extra cash.

But the job turned into a hobby and a way to help fund his schooling, as he would pursue a master’s degree in microbiology at Thomas Jefferson University.

While his days were filled with classes and studying, he worked early mornings and late nights on his ‘side hustle’ cleaning chimneys and maintaining fireplaces.

Joe Ochal, creator of the Chimney Scientists.

Turns out, Joe had a knack for navigating chimneys and realized he had a new career path outside of a laboratory. He completed his microbiology degree and also obtained hearth and chimney industry certifications from the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

In 2014, he formalized his business, the Chimney Scientists.

This was the perfect mix of career passions, as Joe’s science background blends seamlessly with his knowledge of fireplaces and chimneys.

Turns out, getting a clean and well-run chimney is pretty scientific.

“One of the first things we do when we first go out to a customer’s home is ask about their lifestyle,” Joe says.

“We want to know if this is a wood-burning or gas fireplace, or are they looking to sit by the fire to enjoy the crackling of wood and the woodsmoke scent, or are they looking to push a button and have the flames instantly spring to life,” he notes.

“There’s also science to storing and using firewood properly to fuel your home fire.”

Joe has created The Firewood Project, where he is focused on reducing particulate emissions. If you are burning wood with a high moisture content, Joe and his crew can tell from the inside of your chimney.

These days, Joe’s team has grown to 15 employees, all sharing the same passion and values that each customer will see when the Chimney Scientists come to evaluate your chimney and fireplace.

So how do they do it?

Using special tools and cameras, Joe and his team can inspect and review your chimney to see what needs to be repaired and ensure a safe fireplace and chimney spaces in your home.

He gives homeowners peace of mind with a comprehensive evaluation that is easy to understand.

Using his special technology and following fireplace guidelines that he has set in place; the Chimney Scientists use their eco-friendly services to keep your family and your house as safe as can be.

When Joe isn’t checking out a chimney you can find him still applying his scientific background to everyday life and his community. 

He’s a board member of the Valley Forge Watershed Association and gives back to the Montgomery County community with time and donations to Dawn’s Place, Natural Lands, Brandywine Valley SPCA, and the Komen Foundation.

Joe is super-focused on work in the area, but he also brings his scientific knowledge to help global charities.

In 2017, Joe began a research project that would take him to West Africa. He partnered with University Nigeria professors to launch a medical diagnostics facility in West Africa to support the region’s healthcare efforts a year later. It was funded by The Chimney Scientists, and he had the opportunity to visit before the pandemic to see the impact it has made.

In his free time, Joe is dedicated to learning as much as he can to ensure each house he visits will have as much care and is taking every safety precaution.

Do you need your chimney looked at, but not sure what you need?

Find out more here with Joe and his passionate team of chimney specialists.

And be on the lookout for the company’s signature yellow trucks crisscrossing Montgomery County this winter.