Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This "Flue" Will Be The Death Of Me

We got some unsettling news yesterday about the house. More specifically, about our chimney. And even more specifically, about the three flues contained within the chimney. One goes to the furnace, one goes to a fireplace in the living room, and one to a fireplace in the basement. During our home inspection we were told the chimney was clean and looked like it hadn't been used in a long time, and that we could go ahead and use the living room fireplace. The flue to the basement fireplace would need to be lined in order to use it, but it was something we could think about for the future.

Well, we had an actual chimney inspection yesterday and the super nice guys who came to do it were all happy and chatty when they arrived, and got progressively less so as they neared the end of their inspection. In fact, when they came into the living room to talk to me, they looked down right nervous. The main guy had that kind of forced smile that you're sometimes faced with when someone has to deliver some bad news and they don't know how to say it or how you're going to take it.

"Um...well, we're done and I'm really sorry, but...it's pretty bad."
"Okay. What is it?"
He breathes deeply, scratches his head. Then proceeds to tell me (with pictures he just took from his digital camera) how indeed awful the situation is. Not only should we not use our fireplace in the basement, we can no longer use the one in the living room and to do so would be essentially asking for a chimney fire and they have a sneaking suspicion there may have been one in the past because they cannot account for the current damage inside the flue. And don't get me started on the furnace flue. That one is by far the worst and poses the greatest health risk to us all. He kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I didn't expect to find all this in this house." And I know what he means. Everything is pretty much up to date, it's not that old, but I guess it's like a well-dressed, well made-up person who looks great on the outside, but they've been smoking three packs a day for thirty years and their lungs resemble the cracked, charred remains of a vampire that's just been staked.

The good news in all this is that we found out about something that was really a risk to us and our home and we can now have the problem fixed and sleep a little easier. Of course the cost to fix all this will no doubt give us both a raging bout of insomnia, so sleep is really out of the question.

The moral of this story? If you are buying a home with one or more fireplaces, get a home inspector who is also a licensed chimney inspector, or get a separate one to do the job. It could keep some of your hard earned dollars from going up in smoke. See, no worries...I've still managed to retain my ultra lame sense of humor.

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