I grew up in eastern Massachusetts, in a big old house with a fireplace in the livingroom and a woodstove in the cellar. During the energy crunch in the 1970s my dad installed a second wood stove in front of the fireplace to help keep the oil bills under control, and it gunked up the chimney something fierce it was a wonder the house didn't burn down.
For years that boxy steel stove hogged the living room, much to Mom's dismay, until it was dragged off to a corner of the cellar and later carted away by one of my siblings.
I went to school in Richmond, and received a degree in philosophy from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1986.
I liked chimney cleaning so much that in 1988 I joined forces with a business partner (he knew how to do the books and I knew how to walk around on roofs) and we established our own chimney services company. As a Certified Chimney Sweep I worked in the field, cleaning, repairing and troubleshooting chimneys; and was also responsible for hiring and training the road crews.
As a Licensed Masonry Construction Supervisor, I performed masonry repairs and rebuilds of chimneys as well.
Later I moved to Maine, where I had always wanted to live, and managed a leading wood stove and hearth products shop for several years. I worked with stoves every day, and gained a lot of experience troubleshooting every conceivable stove-related problem.
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