Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chim Chiminey Chim Chim Cher-ee!

Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be

Up where the smoke is
All billered and curled
'Tween pavement and stars
Is the chimney sweep world
When the's 'ardly no day
Nor 'ardly no night
There's things 'alf in shadow
And 'alf way in light
On the roof tops of London
Coo, what a sight!

I choose me bristles with pride
Yes, I do
A broom for the shaft
And a broom for the flume

~ Chim Chim Cheree (Mary Poppins)

Performed by: Bert (Dick Van Dyke)
Written by: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman

Sorry, couldn't resist! Every time I think of a chimney sweep, Mary Poppins and that little chimney sweep scene pops into my brain.

We moved in over a year ago, and yet have never used our old wood-burning fireplace. While this probably wasn't a big deal to Tom, it was a HUGE deal to me.

Why? I'm from Florida.

So, yes, fireplaces are totally AWESOME to me. I LOVE having a fire in the fireplace. Although I'll admit that, strangely enough, the house I grew up in did (and still does) have a fireplace, somehow it just isn't the same when it's 110 degrees outside and you have to crank up the AC to enjoy it (sorry, Mom & Dad!).

And yes, I'm also the crazy girl who LOVES the snow! (I can imagine all you Northerners right now rolling your eyes at me!) But honestly, I can't imagine a more picturesque and homey scene than snuggling up on the couch with a hot cup of cocoa while a fire blazes in the fireplace and snow is falling outside.

Love. It.

We had several blizzards last year. I loved it!
But sadly we haven't been able to enjoy our fireplace the way we should for the past year (and this past winter we had several blizzards and got snowed-in, too! [and yes, I STILL like the snow!]).

Why? We needed to have it professionally cleaned and inspected - we weren't about to risk lighting a fire and having the house go up in flames! So we did a little research and called a few chimney sweeps in town. We scheduled an appointment and opened our door to a nice man a few days later.

He had lots of equipment! Since this was our first chimney sweep experience, I took photos (yes, yes, I'm a total dork). He brought in this big vacuum-looking thing to suck out all of the soot (so it didn't get on the furniture, I think) and brought in a vacuum-y brush thing, too. It was pretty entertaining!

He even went and inspected the chimney from the roof.

While we were glad that we were getting the chimney cleaned (considering our house's history, who knows how long it'd been!), we were anxiously awaiting the results of the inspection. So when he told us "Everything looks good", we breathed a sigh of relief...



"The pull-cord is, um, well, needs to be replaced. Right now your chimney's flue isn't closed all the way so you're losing heat/air through it."

"What do you mean? There is a cord there - I've seen it."

"Yes, but, well, it's sort of a combination of 3 different kinds of cords, and instead of going where it's supposed to go (through the fireplace) it uses a keychain loophole to hook onto a rusty piece of metal on the side of the fireplace."

"Oh, but if we just move that rusty piece of metal down a little bit, the flue will close, won't it?"

"Um, yes, but that rusty piece of metal isn't supposed to be there in the first place."


That's sorta how our little convo went.

Here's a picture of the flue when it's open (sorry for the not-so-great photos - have you ever tried to photograph your chimney's flue? It's hard!):

And here it is "closed", and you can see where the air can still escape through the crack since it doesn't close all the way:

After talking about it, we decided to get a quote to fix it. It sounded sort of complicated, with springs and all and then running the cord through the fireplace, so we figured we'd leave it to the pros. A couple of days later (it took them awhile to find the part since only 1 place may or may not make them anymore), and they called us back with a quote.

Guess what it was?

200. Two hundred dollars. To fix a pull-chain on an ugly outdated fireplace. Seriously?

So we figured maybed we tackle this project DIY-style, right?

Guess how much the pull chain itself is?

Eighty bucks.

Now, you guys know how much we like to do things correctly and by-the-book, and don't like to "temporarily rig" things - we'd rather just do it right the first time and rest easy knowing a project has been completed correctly and will stand the test of time.

But in this case? We didn't think $200, or even $80, was worth it.

So we just moved the piece of metal a little bit, and now the flue closes completely.

Problem solved.

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  1. That fire looks so cozy and warm! We've never had a fireplace, and I've always wanted one. I'm glad you guys got it cleaned so you can use it again!

  2. Free? Free works!

    Your fireplace is way prettier than mine, lit or not. I'm just sayin'.

  3. LOL.... and after all that drama! I had to laugh at your conversation reenactment with the chimney sweep guy. :) Good for you guys for not just paying the $200 without asking questions!

    I'm jealous of your fireplace! I kinda wish we had one.

  4. We just moved into a new (to us) house this past weekend, and we have almost the same fireplace as yours! Except ours is quite a bit uglier, with gray clumpy grout between the rocks. Yuck! Anyway, I can't wait to lite a fire in the thing, but we need to have it cleaned/inspected first. Do you mind sharing how much that cost in your area? Thanks!

  5. Looks so cozy and wonderful! And this is kind of off-topic, but I'm SUPER impressed at all the cuts you guys did around the fireplace (for the flooring). I just finished installing mine, and the cuts even around the door frames drove me bonkers. Then again, I probably didn't have the best tools. What kind of saw did you use to make all those cuts?

  6. Ooo, I can't wait to light up our fireplace for the first time this year! We maybe should get our fireplace inspected, too. But we're cheap. And it seems to work ok! ha

  7. Thanks for dropping in, guys!

    @Anonymous - The cleaning and inspection was around $170. It was more than we really wanted to pay (I admit it - we're cheap), but we knew that we really needed to have it inspected before we lit a fire - you know, so the house wouldn't catch on fire or anything. :) Congrats on your new house!


  8. It is funny because the idea of a chimney sweep also makes me start singing mary poppins, and i always imagine that a young victorian boy with a cockney accent will turn up to clean out my chimney.

  9. It looks so cozy. We are currently in AZ so we don't have a need for a fireplace but we are moving soon and I am looking forward to having one. I'm your newest follower from the picket fence.

    Stop by when you can http://diyhshp.blogspot.com

  10. Amanda -

    Thanks! I give Tom all the credit for the crazy cuts for the laminate around the fireplace - he spent several hours custom cutting each piece with a jigsaw so the flooring would fit as close to the fireplace rocks as possible. The cuts for the doorframes are hard, too - I think we ended up using a jambsaw (rented from HD) for those.

    Thanks for stopping by,



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