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Chimney Adventures

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_damper.asp   But good grief, they’re not cheap! Depending on the flue size, they’re $299, $389, or $399 each – and I need two! Assuming that my flues are 8x8 (because I have so many of them in one chimney), that’s an additional $589. But wait – we’re still not done! I also should probably put a chimney cap on. Normally the lock top dampers are sufficient, but I’ve got those other flues up there that I’d like to keep the weather and the critters out of. I don’t even know how much that will be, because I have no idea how big my chimney is. But I think I’m looking at about $1,500 being put into my chimney. Oy!

 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.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 4th, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
I like your house. I would be very sad if it burnt down, so yes, money well spent, but certainly annoying. I have to admit reading your posts makes me very glad I am no longer a property owner!

Speaking of which, did I tell you? My condo burnt down a month after we sold it! Hah!
Oct. 4th, 2007 12:54 pm (UTC)
Did it? I hadn't heard that! Westlake has had problems with fires for as long as I've been aware of them, which is coming up on almost 20 years now. It seems like every time I turned around another one was burning. Was it your old unit, or something else in the building? Good timing on your part...

I have to say that despite all my blathering, I'm actually enjoying being a property owner. I do admit that I'm enjoying it more now that the initial input of energy is slowing down. I can't wait to decorate for the holidays this year.
Oct. 4th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
Yikes! That is expensive, but necessary.

Does this mean that Ziggy will be able to come out and play?
Oct. 4th, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
oops! That was me. LJ logged me out and I didn't realize it.
Oct. 4th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
That's happened to me a time or two. I figured it was you because of the Ziggy reference.

I will be much happier letting Ziggy come out to play once this is done. Certainly we'll be able to do kettle based things with the crane with no difficulty. Here's the thing I need to figure out: a lot of the recipes require a bed of coals. Our fireplaces both have metal trap doors for cleaning - you can brush ashes and such down the flue, and then clean the whole thing out from the door in the basement. The problem is that Bob tells me that if you build a fire right on them, they can warp. I guess that comes from personal experience. So I need to figure a way to protect that. I'm toying with the idea of dry-laying a layer of fire brick in the bottom - I clean them manually anyhow.

You'll have to learn to run a fire, you know. ;-) My current expertise is exclusively woodstoves.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )