Before getting all comfy cozy in front of our fireplace this year, we called a chimney sweep out to clean and inspect our chimney. We learned from our neighbors that some chimneys are not lined, like theirs. If a chimney is not lined, with terra cotta tiles, metal or something else, air can seep in through the bricks and mortar and cause issues, including fire hazards. Fantastic. Safety first, let’s get the chimney inspected.
Everyday in Spokane is an opportunity to learn something new. First gas lines and now chimneys. We learned our chimney is indeed lined (hurray!) so no issue there. The issue is with our fireplace itself. Did you know that there is a formula for determining how big your fireplace opening should be? The chimney sweep and my husband were throwing mathematical equations back and forth, rapid fire, doing the math in their head, while my head was spinning. Turns out our architecture designer-builder didn’t know there was a formula to determine the correct size of the fireplace opening. His architecture instincts led him down the path of aesthetics and not practicum.
I love architects. I work with them every day. My husband works with architects every day. Architects make our world go round. Yet not necessarily in the same direction or without bouncing all over before getting to where you need to be. I love architects.
The problem with a fireplace opening being too big is that there is a conflict between too much air coming in from the house that can’t escape up the chimney top. What happens with too big of an opening, or if your formula ratios are off, smoke will billow back into the house. Fantastic.
This is the joy of owning an old home. You start a project thinking it will be an easy breezy slam dunk then you add another project to the list.
Here is our fireplace. You can see the smoke damage on the bricks resulting from the above issue described from previous owners.
Here’s our chimney sweep. No tie downs, we even provided our own for their use, no thanks. Yikes. I wish our chimney sweep was more Dick Van Dyke-like and sang Chim-chim-cher-ee chim-chim-cher-oo. It would have been truly fantastic if Mary Poppins herself dropped in as well. They didn’t even have soot on their faces. Nothing worse than a clean chimney sweep.
Our fireplace fix, my Mr. Fix It husband tells me is relatively easy. A piece of sheet metal will go on the back of the top section of the grate. Add some insulated rope around the edges and done, problem solved. The trick is getting Mr. Fix It to fix it. Temperatures this week are in the teens at night and mid-30s during the day.
The chimney sweep was here over a month ago, the fireplace is still not operable, the smoke is still not acid washed off the bricks. My dining room is painted and our bedroom will be painted this weekend. We’re making slow but steady progress but the list is still long. I offered to sing the Mary Poppin’s soundtrack to expedite our projects but my idea was rejected not only by my husband but the rest of the house. No appreciation for the arts, or perhaps my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious singing.