Chimney whisperer embraces sooty destiny

Chimney sweep Chris Podrecca had other plans than taking up the family business.

“When I first started, I swore I didn’t want to be a chimney sweep like my dad or live in Massachusetts. I thought I was better than that, and I went to film school,” said Podrecca.

After he did some growing up, Podrecca’s attitude changed.

Chimney sweep Chris Podrecca of Massachusetts

“Through years of denying my destiny, I finally realized I didn’t mind doing the chimney sweep thing, and it was something I was pretty good at.”

Over the past two years, Podrecca has reinvigorated the business that his father founded in 1997.

Podrecca, a native of Mattapoisett, says many homeowners distrust chimney sweeps, but he hopes to change public opinion.

“We do, on some level, get a bad rap as snake oil salesmen,” said Podrecca.

With chimney buildup out of sight, many people are dubious about the benefits of having their chimney cleaned. But getting excess soot, creosote, and even dead animals out of the chimney is a safety issue.

“When you think about it, you’re literally having a fire in your house,” he said. “What is your house made out of – wood, combustibles? Where are your worldly possessions? Generally, in your combustible house. A $50 inspection or a $175 cleaning to make sure your house and everything you own doesn’t burn down – you might be able to justify that.”

Podrecca said he’s not a “safety nut” trying to scare people into hiring him and he only does a cleaning if it’s needed.

“My main job is to make sure your system is safe to be used,” said Podrecca. With his inspections, Podrecca assesses the amount of buildup in a chimney and the integrity of the structure.

Top mounted chimney damper covered with creosote.

Podrecca, certified through the National Chimney Sweep Guild, assesses everything from fireplace to flue and can correct many issues so chimneys burn safely.

But there are a few things he won’t do – namely stick his hand up a chimney when there’s a dying animal stuck in it. “For squirrels and birds, it’s a one-way trip. If there are live animals in there, I say call animal control or wait,” he said, adding that a chimney cap prevents such unfortunate incidents.

Embracing his fate has served Podrecca well.

Looking at chimneys, in a sense, is like a mystery. I’m like the chimney whisperer. I try to be a detective and figure out why things aren’t working.” To contact Chimney Sweep Professionals, call 508-758-4238 or visit http://www.chimney-pros.com

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By Georgia Sparling, Reprinted with permission

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