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Thread: A chimney story

  1. #1
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    Default A chimney story

    Our old house has a chimney in the middle of the house that has three flues, one for the upstairs fireplace, one for the downstairs fireplace, and one for the furnace which we converted to gas several years ago. Last year we decided to put gas insert fireplaces in as we never used the wood burning fireplaces. The gas inserts required that new metal liners be put in the flues for the fireplaces. The top of the chimney also needed some masonry repair. We hired a mason who tuckpointed the chimney and installed the metal liners and chimney caps on the two fireplace flues. Then the fireplace company came in and installed the fireplaces and connected them to the metal liners (two in each flue, one intake and one exhaust).

    In using the gas fireplace over the winter we had a major problem with odors of stale smoke even when not using it. After rounds of discussions with the fireplace insert installers, we came to an agreement to share cost to have the fireplaces removed and the chimney thoroughly cleaned. Yesterday the chimney sweeps arrived, remove the inserts and then went on the roof to remove the liners and clean the flues. They came down with the VERY surprising news that the third flue, the one for the furnace (and gas water heater) had been completely sealed and covered over with concrete by the mason. So all winter our furnace and water heater had been venting water vapor and carbon monoxide into a dead end chimney. We had noticed water on the floor of the basement from the chimney and assumed it was rainwater. Turns out it was condensate from the gas combustion. The chimney sweeps said the flues were absolutely soaked with water. We have three CO detectors, one on the wall beside the furnace, all tested as working, yet none ever went off. The sweep said it was probably because most of the CO was leaking into the attic and out the roof vents, and that our house is all open spaces.

    I cannot think of a single reason for whatever possessed the mason to cover over the furnace flue. It should have been very obvious that it was a live working flue, even if not, he certainly should have asked if we wanted it covered. His fee last year for the chimney repair was over $7,000. Yesterday the new crew uncapped the furnace flue, removed two courses of loose brick on top, thoroughly cleaned all flues, and put a new cast in place concrete cap on the chimney all for several thousand dollars, shared by the us and the fireplace company. So now we have to think about how to deal with the original mason. We will certainly at least ask for compensation to cover the expense of having his work corrected. If he balks, we'll remind him of the CO danger he created that we lived with for a year.

    Can anyone think of any reason whatsoever he could have had for covering that flue?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Whether or not there was a reason, the person doing the work should have informed you of what he planned to do before closing off the flue.
    We are faced with major work on our own chimney system during the summer this year.
    Jay

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    Whether or not there was a reason, the person doing the work should have informed you of what he planned to do before closing off the flue.
    We are faced with major work on our own chimney system during the summer this year.
    Jay
    With all the old Victorian chimneys in Port Townsend I'm sure you can find competent masons there for the work. If not, I can definitely tell you who to stay away from.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Do you not have CO sensors on every level of your home. Code here says you must have one near the furnace at least.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Smith porter maine View Post
    Do you not have CO sensors on every level of your home. Code here says you must have one near the furnace at least.
    Yes, as I mentioned in the OP.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    That is a mason that should probably be doing something else for a living.
    Nosce te ipsum

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    File for criminal charges before he kills a family. Need to get his attention.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    yikes!

    You have a good case to access his bond.

  9. #9
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    Default

    The story above may seem surprising but it is a very common story. It's possible people doing the work for the liners we weren't even aware there was a furnace flue. Hard to believe that as it may be.


    Here in the east in Philadelphia specifically they have codes that chimneys must be lined and separate for each appliance or fireplace.

    City houses (I don't know about the house in the story) have party walls made of brick called salmon brick, very soft.

    Often the party wall chimneys which were not even lined back in the day, had the ends of floor joists inside the flu!

    Sent from my LG-M430 using Tapatalk
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  10. #10
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Unless specifically asked, he should not have covered it. Period, end of subject. I'd say not only do you have a case for him paying for the new work, but for a deduction on his bill for the time he took to cap it. He should be happy you aren't suing him for way more than that - which your heirs would've been doing had you not had CO detectors.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  11. #11
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    When I was young and carefree my bride and I bought an old house with open wood burning fireplaces. Used the one in the living room through our first winter. Then I noticed there was no chimney coming up through the roof. At some stage someone had removed the top courses of brick and roofed over the open chimney. Smoke, sparks, whatever, from our cosy fire were just venting to the roof space all that first winter.

    Sent from my CPH1851 using Tapatalk

  12. #12
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    holy f***
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Ask him for compensation... politely.

    If he refuses, sue his ass off.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  14. #14
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    The Dept. of Labor and Industries has pretty good guidelines on the steps to follow now, starting with a registered letter clearly stating the complaint and allowing 30 days for a response. If the response is not satisfactory then move on to the next step, each step outlining more serious action. Tempting as it is to yell at him and threaten him and scream his name all over the internet, I think we’ll proceed methodically.

    BTW, the company owner was on site doing the work with his employees.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    The Dept. of Labor and Industries
    That's the ticket. Should be relatively easy to get the funds for repairs.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    The Dept. of Labor and Industries has pretty good guidelines on the steps to follow now, starting with a registered letter clearly stating the complaint and allowing 30 days for a response. If the response is not satisfactory then move on to the next step, each step outlining more serious action. Tempting as it is to yell at him and threaten him and scream his name all over the internet, I think we’ll proceed methodically.

    BTW, the company owner was on site doing the work with his employees.
    Maybe you should just call him, first.

    I mean, there's a chance that he is unaware of this, and will be grateful for the chance to set things right.
    Rattling the teacups.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Quote Originally Posted by oznabrag View Post
    Maybe you should just call him, first.

    I mean, there's a chance that he is unaware of this, and will be grateful for the chance to set things right.
    Calling him first is dangerous. I’m apt to get pissed and say the wrong things, then there would be no record and Judge Judy would have me paying him. I didn’t really like the guy when he was doing the work so my head start at being diplomatic is already shot.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    Calling him first is dangerous. I’m apt to get pissed and say the wrong things, then there would be no record and Judge Judy would have me paying him. I didn’t really like the guy when he was doing the work so my head start at being diplomatic is already shot.
    So have your attorney call him?
    Rattling the teacups.

  19. #19
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    Default

    Y'all just head right over and shoot the basterd dontcha? No seriously, your proposed course of action seems exactly right. Of course you will need to keep your cool when he asks to come and inspect, and hears that you've gone ahead and changed everything, and when he says he would have been perfectly happy to come and remedy the work at no cost, but you didn't give him the opportunity. And he may have a point there.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: A chimney story

    I'm glad you lived to tell about it.

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