Having become tired of waiting for my husband to take care of it, I called and made an appointment to have our chimneys swept. Yes, that’s right, chimneys. Plural. We’ve got four flues up there: the boiler, the woodstove, the living room fireplace, and the dining room fireplace.
Our history with these chimneys is unfortunate. One of the closing conditions when we bought the house was that the living room chimney be swept, because it had been flagged by our home inspector. That wasn’t a problem. But when we did the walk-through before the closing, the chimney still hadn’t been swept. So I called around to a bunch of sweeps for pricing, and when we got to closing we asked for $200 back to get the chimney cleaned.
They insisted that they had gotten the chimney cleaned.
We insisted that it hadn’t been.
They produced a receipt.
We produced photos. (This is when our realtor announced that we didn't need her - we were doing just fine by ourselves)
At that point, their lawyer got on the phone to their chimney sweep. The response at that point was "we showed up but the house was locked, so we did the pointing on the chimney and would come back later to finish the job." Suuurrrreeee. That’s why you didn’t TELL anyone that you hadn’t swept the chimney – you just charged for it. "The new owners can call and schedule the visit – it’s already paid for." Except I don’t have TIME for this you ninnies – that’s why I wanted it done before closing. We went with it, because it wasn’t worth blowing up the closing for a dirty chimney.
Next in the story, our heroine calls the chimney sweep to schedule the appointment. They tell me how much it’s going to cost. I relate the whole story. Their next line? "Oh, we swept the woodstove. If you want the fireplace swept that’ll be $200." I pointed out that I have a paid receipt for sweeping a chimney that is still dirty. She put the owner on the line. HE said that they had swept a chimney, but he supposed that they could come out and take care of it.
When they arrived – a month or so later, we got a song and dance about how they’d done exactly what they were supposed to do, it looked like the receipt we were given at closing had been changed, but he was *giving* us the cleaning in the hopes of getting a new customer. He has no idea how close he came to chatting with our lawyer. Need I say that I am NOT rehiring them? At best, they’re hopelessly unprofessional. At worst, they’re fraudulent. On the up side, in the course of my calling around, I talked to some folks I’m willing to do business with.
So, I knew I was going to need to budget for this, but what an eye opener! At Northeastern Chimney, the first flue is $179, and every flue after that is $119. Remember I said that we have four flues? That’ll be about $570 with tax. But I’m not done. I want to put lock top dampers on the two fireplace flues. They seem to be the best way to cut down on losing heat up the chimneys when they’re not in use. I know that we lost a good bit of heat up the chimneys last year – I could feel the draft. They’re pretty neat: www.homesaver.com/locktop_fireplace_damp
The best part is that because this waited so long, they first appointment they had when we can be home is November 8. Hopefully it won’t get cold too early this year. I need to order wood also.
However, the expense for the dampers and the chimney cap are a one time investment. After that, it’ll be up to $550/year for maintenance. You know what? It’s a whole lot cheaper than burning down. I consider it money well spent.