Sunday, January 17, 2016

The chimney is saved!

So, our fireplace and chimney has been on life support for at least 10 years if not longer.  It is of a curious construction, no longer done, of prefab concrete, molded to look like bricks, shipped from a factory in the Midwest, stood up like the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi, and toppled like ninepins in the Northridge earthquake - except at our humble house. It survived the earthquake but probably is when it picked up many of its cracks.  We have been told by successive chimney sweeps that the concrete is cracked and in danger of falling down, catching the house on fire, or both.
I had a chimney expert look at it about 3 years ago who told us that the design was fatally flawed and it needed to be torn down and a custom chimney/fireplace installed for about 20k.  I passed.

This fall the chimney sweep cleaned everything and told us to never use the fireplace again due to the cracks.  Nice to hear this after cleaning it and charging us a cool hundred for the job.

I refused to give up on the fireplace if for no other reason that the Air Quality board hates fireplaces almost as much as the Attorney General hates firearms owners and dearly would like all fireplaces blocked off.  These days new homes aren't even allowed to be built with wood burning fireplaces.  Well phooey on you both!  I started calling around and found a local guy who said that he could indeed save our fireplace and chimney for only $4,000.

The chimney is receiving a stainless steel heat pipe surrounded by heat proof concrete to stiffen the chimney and seal the cracks.  The flapper thingy is being relocated to the top of the chimney and the 'firebox' is being coated with the same fireproof concrete.  The crew was busily working on it all day today and I got to peer up the chimney while laying on my back next to the crew chief Michael who explained how it was all working.  I wondered how Santa ever fit down such a small opening.  Micheal looked like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, all soot and grinning teeth.

Tomorrow it is to be finished and then a 10 day wait for the concrete to cure after which will be our first wood fire in  the newly done fireplace!  Once again I've stuck my thumb in the eye of officialdom here in the People's Republic of California.  Take that Mr. Air Quality Management District official!

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