Awaiting the verdict after a chimney colonoscopy

Published 7:40pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

My chimbley’s broke.
Somehow, pronouncing the cracked, brick, structure that rears 30 feet from ground to sky in the voice of a 5-year-old makes it more palatable. All I know is, about a week ago, I was walking outside and just happened to look at my chimney. Why, I don’t know. But what I saw made my head sweat.
A staggered crack, beginning at the very top, ran jaggedly downwards through both brick and mortar, all the way to the ground.
Being less of a “glass half-empty” type of gal, and more of a “glass-drained-and-contents-were-probably-poisonous, anyway,” I bolted for Google the same way I head to webmd should I notice a pimple, and started to read various links that began to turn my stomach:
“Faulty construction…”
“Specialist required…”
“Imminent collapse…”
Facebook postings, complete with uploaded photos, gave me both dire warnings and hope.
“Looks superficial. No big deal. Take a deep breath,” said one, which I obeyed until a neighbor, quite the competent carpenter, came over to take a gander.
“Mmmm, I don’t know, Pam,” said Frank, frowning. “To me it looks like it’s trying to break in half with one part falling to the right and the other to the left. When was the house built?”
“Around 1980.” I whispered, afraid any force of air would topple the structure. “But I have no idea how long the crack has been there – recently? A couple of years?”
“Yeah, and you certainly don’t want any rain to have gotten in there.” he said, but added optimistically. “However, being built in 1980, this chimney should have been built to code and not just stuck, as some were, on fill dirt.”
That was the second punch to the gut. When I bought my A-frame, my little haven, my wannabe IHOP, it was essentially a tear-down. I bought it only because the acreage upon which it sat was breathtaking.
The house was in appalling condition and we took it back to the bare studs, of which my contractor declared, “This is the worst framed house I have ever seen. It looks like somebody let loose a monkey with a hammer- It’s a good thing we tore her back because this house would have fallen down around your ears in a couple of years.”
To prove his point, he showed me how he could shake the entire front of the house, with one hand on the outside of the door frame, and one on the inside, because the wall wasn’t even tied into the rest of the dwelling.
“I’m thinking it wasn’t built to code.” I sighed, despairingly, to Frank.
A plan was implemented. As suggested, I put in a call to a chimney sweep, who is to arrive tomorrow and give my chimney a sort of colonoscopy with a small camera (it really is the same kind of thing, isn’t it, although I think on humans they don’t use the tri-pod) inserted through its length to determine if the chimney liner is cracked.
That will be dire news because that means the crack is not cosmetic and can be patched, but will have to be demolished. And a thick concrete and rebar foundation slab laid. And about one hundred bucks a foot to rebuild.
Did I mention it’s 30 feet high?
“The worst part is there goes my ‘new horse’ fund, again,” I griped to Paul, who began researching wood-burning stoves online. “Sales of the book have been great and here I was, all excited that, after retiring Valentino, I would be able to start looking for a new horse soon, and now this stupid chimney.”
“You don’t know for sure that you need a new chimney,” Paul replied with annoying good common sense, being a very “half-full to overflowing-so-much-that-you’re-sick-of-water” type of guy. “It might just need to be patched. Wait and see what the chimney sweep says.”
I know, I know. But already this year there’s been over a thousand dollars in vet bills, reluctantly replacing the Honda after discovering a cracked axle, replacing the upstairs flooring, and now, this.
I can just feel it.
My chimbley’s broke.

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