This is the first of what will be many posts about chimneys and fireplaces. This first post is responding to a very common question we get asked all the time–-“How in the world did you decide to become a chimney sweep?” The response to this common question seemed a great way to start off our new blog!
When I was a child, growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, I never imagined in a million years that I would be a co-owner in a chimney sweep company. In fact, ironically, one of my chores as a 10-year-old little girl was cleaning out the fireplace. I detested the job so much that I figured out a way to clean it out with minimal time and effort. When the firebox was clean, I lined the bottom of the firebox with aluminum foil. When I went to clean it out, I lifted out the grate and carefully rolled up the foil and, VOILA’, the fireplace was instantly clean. Whoever said that “Necessity was the mother of Invention” was a genius.
About 20 years later, back in the mid-1980’s, a very close friend of ours and his wife decided to start up a chimney sweep business. Living in beautiful San Diego, we actually laughed at them. After all, how much of a need was there for a chimney sweep in sunny San Diego? After further thought, we realized that just about every house in San Diego has a fireplace.
About that time, the population in the City of San Diego was about 900,000 people and in the county there were 2 million people, so doing the math, that meant a heck of a lot of chimneys. Nine years later, in 1994, our friends decided to move back to Sweden which was where he grew up and so we bought their business.
About that time, we had two little boys, ages 1 and 3, who were the joys of our life. Rick and I both worked many hours in our respective jobs (Rick as a service manager in the automotive field and me as an administrative assistant in the corporate world) and we regretted the fact that we were missing out on our kids’ lives. By buying the chimney sweep business, it allowed us to manage our time more effectively and be the parents we wanted to be. We ran it as a home-based business and we were able to work our chimney sweep schedule around our kids’ activities–school, play dates, Cub Scouts, Little League, Boy Scouts, water polo, swim team, cross country meets, and school theatre productions. We still worked a lot of hours for our business but we were able to work around our kids’ schedules. That parental involvement has paid off. Those two little boys are now 21 and 23 and have turned into the great young men that any parent would be proud of.
So when I think back to when I was 10 years old and grumbling and griping about the dirty job of cleaning out the fireplace, I have to smile and realize that the chore I despised the most as a child would ultimately provide us with a way to be active and involved in raising our own two sons. Ahhh….the Circle of Life!