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Basement work and the replationship to the chimney

We have the contractor coming in today to talk about the basement. Yes, again. I've probably hinted this before in my previous posts, but here is the whole story:

Before we moved into the House in October of 2008, we had a chimney liner replaced in the chimney that serves the furnace. What we were assured would be "a piece of cake" job, turned into a complete nightmare. I've been going over this in my head for over a year now, and I think I might be able to finally re-tell the story and make sense.

Mistake #1: We hired, I believe, the first contractor that came through the door, despite our better judgment. My better half liked him. Apparently, that was all the research he needed. Personally, I think he simply didn't want to be stuck in the House all day talking to the chimney guys. I can't blame him, it was a beautiful day outside. So, I canceled all the other appointments and hoped for the best.

Mistake #2: We never checked the references and talked to other people they completed jobs for. Apparently, in the "man's world," firm handshake is enough. Ha!

Mistake #3: Meticulous as I am, I never checked how they prepped the House for the work - did they sealed the fire boxes, and any other outlets of soot and dust, etc. I just figured they will do that. Wrong! Let me just say that I was not allowed into the House until the job was done and the cleaning lady has been there 3 times. So, $700 in cleaning costs and one dead vacuum cleaner later, they sat me down and told me what they found and how they tried to fix it. I'm still not sure it is the whole truth, but I couldn't really argue and let my temper flare, considering I was a few weeks away from delivering a baby.

Mistake #4: Related to #3, and it's not being involved in the process and the decision-making. Basically, when they started to insert the stainless steel liner, they realized that the flues were VERY narrow, which would certainly be the case, because they already contained the clay lining, probably original to the House. Well, that had to be removed. So, they started to. And since the builders used mortar to "glue" it to the chimney, bricks were starting to fall out of the structure. Now, being a chimney contractor, why would you not know this? A truck full of debris and a House full of dirt and soot later, they also discovered that they were lining THE WRONG FLUE. Oh, yeah.

Mistake #5: We should have fired them right then and there, cut our loses, and got an expert. The look of fear in the contractor's eyes when I saw him during one of the site visits I was not allowed to go into the House told me everything. But, what do I know? It's only a woman's intuition, right? I will give them some credit, at least on the wrong flue. Well, just a little credit. Here is what we found out about that. Apparently, when the House was renovated the last time, or rather when we got the kitchen we have today, the flue that was running from the old kitchen stove was simply cut and never closed. That ordinarily would not have been a problem, had the flue not been used for the furnace. But, instead of rebuilding the flue or adding some liner, the contractor simply stacked the bricks up and hoped that physics will take care of the rest and the heat from the furnace and soot will, well, rise up and find the right hole. When I found this out, I had half a mind to find this person and sue them. Are you kidding me!!!!

Needless to say, the stacked bricks collapsed, broke through the Sheetrock ceiling, only to reveal several inches of black caked up stuff in that ceiling/floor cavity. Having no choice, and baby on the way, we told the contractor to rebuild and reline that flue properly, close the wrong flue for now, and replace the ceiling. We hope that's what he did.

The consequences of this job are still haunting us. Our basement has at least an inch of dust and soot on everything, and every time someone walks in the basement, the dust rises through the floor into the living area, since the renovation contractor on the last go around didn't put the sub-floor before laying the wood, as I wrote in the last several posts.

The good news is that we had an old chimney expert here to inspect the work, and he tells us that everything looks good.

How's this for a horror story?


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