It actually ended up being far less dramatic than I had feared, although more expensive than I had hoped.
As a reference point, here is a “before” picture from Thursday night. The visible patch towards the top is from earlier in the summer when Dave came out to take a peek and didn’t have the right mortar with him:
Northeastern gave me an arrival window of between 9:00 and 10:00, and the boys were there at 8:45. They got set up in jig quick time while I corralled the cats and got them locked into the upstairs bedrooms. I figured that at some point we’d have the Bilco door and the basement door open at the same time, and I didn’t want to risk frightened escapees. I set them up with water and a litter box, and they spent the day on the bed. In no time flat they had the hole reopened:
Dave and Chad both commented that we have a LOT of material in our chimney – Dave says that there is a small fortune in materials in that stack. Once they had room to work and had vacuumed out the debris, they headed out to set up the ladder and pull the liner up to the roof.
You’ll notice that there are *three* pieces of liner in my driveway. Dave brought extra, and it turned out to be a good thing. They taped a cone onto the end so that they could tie a rope to it, tossed the rope down the flue, and one pulled from the kitchen while the other one pushed from the roof. I make this all sound easier than it actually was. There were more than a few occasions where it hung up on lips where the tiles weren’t aligned. It was a struggle to get it to make the curve, but they finally pulled it down to the hole. This was the time frame when I scampered up the ladder and cleaned out the top gutter. It think it always confuses them when we follow them up the ladder – I guess not many homeowners hang out on the roof with them.
The next step was to take one of those shorter pieces and feed it from the hole in the kitchen down to the boiler. This was supposed to be the easy part.
Now apparently, sometimes they can actually take these liners up to the roof, feed them in, and let go – done. That’s roughly what was supposed to happen to this piece. When it wouldn’t push down, they attached a rope with a vise clamp and went back to the “push from the top, pull from the bottom” method. See?
That hole is going to get bigger by the time they’re done, by the way.
The second time the clamp pulled off, they decided to break for lunch and headed off to Five Guys for burgers. I gather the top was free, the bottom was free, but the middle just wasn’t moving for some reason. I took the opportunity to have some lunch myself and check on the children – they were all curled up in the middle of the bed. This was before Becket realized that he could go howl in Charlotte’s room and hear himself on the monitor in our bedroom.
The boys came back from lunch mightily determined, and decided to pull the bottom piece out – it was so stuck that they shredded it getting it out. Which is why Dave brought an extra piece. I guess they put the new one through a contraption that made it more oval instead of round, and the second time was the charm: it pulled to the basement. The next trick that was required was to join the roof piece to the basement piece. The concept was simple enough – Dave had a fitting to join two female pieces that would be riveted in place. In practice though, the angles in the flue caused trouble yet again. He got the fitting inserted into the basement liner and riveted in place, but every time he would start to get it into the roof piece it would get away from him and pop back out. I was no end of impressed at the fact that he wasn’t swearing – I would have been.
They tried seating it while Chad pushed the basement piece up, but couldn’t get enough play, so then they tried seating it while Chad pushed down from the roof, and that did the trick. Rivets were set, and I had a continuous liner.
As a sidebar here, I felt bad for Chad. He’s allergic to cats. By the time he headed out he was sneezing continually, his eyes were swelling, and his nose was running. I’m sorry my cats were killing him.
Once the coupling was riveted in place they went down to the basement to attach the T fitting at the bottom and hook the boiler back in. Notice the hole is now three blocks high?
Earlier I had noticed some water dripping from a relief valve on the boiler and felt a moment of disquiet – I’m a bit past due to have it serviced, because I wanted this done first. When we went back down it was oozing *everywhere.* Just as I started to experience severe intestinal distress, Dave commented “all the McCleans leak like that when they’re shut down. That’ll go away when we fire it back up.” Phew! I don’t need boiler issues right now… Dave bricked the hole in the kitchen back up, and did a really nice job. Worst part is that he made it look easy, and I know it’s not. About that time he cut Chad loose, because his son had a school function at 5:30 and he wanted him to make it. Tim was on another job just over in Unionville, and came over to help finish up so that Chad could leave (and get away from all my cat dander. Poor guy.) Tim was one of the guys who came out the first time, so Dave was greeted with “See – I TOLD you I wasn’t crazy about this chimney.” They got everything buttoned up in the basement, cleaned up the mess, and I wrote them a really big check.
I got a hearty handshake from Dave and a thank you, and left them with “see you in the spring.” They walked out the door at 4:45.
I did get some stuff done – I brought home a box full of files that needed to be purged and labeled, and I sat in the living room with my shooting earmuff on and got that done. I did some tidying in the walk in closet before I got bored with it and wandered off. I really wanted a nap, but thought that would be rude (and a little creepy.)
So it’s done, and it will never have to be addressed again in my lifetime. There’s also a lifetime warranty on it, so if we have any issues Northeastern will make it right. That’s nice. I just wish it did something for the appraised value of our house, which it doesn’t. Isn’t it ironic that you could add stainless steel appliances and granite countertops to a house that is a health hazard and you would increase the “value,” but if you address the health hazard itself it does nothing?
On the whole, I’m pleased, and I’m VERY happy to have this done before heating season.
Of course, that same day I got the bill for a delivery of home heating oil. Because I *needed* another $500 invoice just then.
Sigh. C’est la vie, I suppose.