When we last saw our hero, the chimney sweep had just left his house,
telling him that he couldn't clean the chimney attached to his oil
furnace because "it's too dirty". He said it would ruin his brushes
and it wouldn't come clean anyhow. He wanted 680 dollars to replace
3 one-layer galvanized stove pipes totalling 4 feet and 4 angle
pieces, and of course said nothing about the condition of the chimney
itself, since he hadn't gotten there yet.
When questioned about this, the woman at his office said it couldn't
be cleaned because of creosote.
The woman at the other chimney sweep, when she heard, "it was too
dirty", laughed out loud. They charged the same price as the first
place, 125 dollars for the first chimney, 115 for the second.
But our valiant hero, though he refused to believe that everyone who
was cheap was lying, said, "Money is no object when it comes to you my
beloved stove pipes, " and hired a company that was closer, and
That man came today, 90 minutes later than 2-3 PM, but the office
called and said he was running late because an earlier call took
He cleaned the pipes with no complaint, went on the roof and cleaned
from there, up and down, up and down (4 six-foot sections to reach
from the top of the pitched roof of a a tw-story house to the ceiling
of the basement. He actually did his up and down 4 times but only 4
to 6 feet at a time, once for for each section of rod that he
removed.) He too looked quizzical when I said that the first guy
said "too dirty to clean" and the 680 price he said was too high, 250
to 350 would be right (and that surely include the T-pipe with the
atmospheric damper that the first guy didn't include.) Mr.
second-guy did say that the pipes warranted replacing, especially
since I was getting a new furncace, because they were starting to rust
where one slid into the other and there were two layers, but he hadn't
said that until I brought it up. I saw all the pipes. There is only
a little rust in a few places, nowhere is it close to rusting through.
But I'll replace the pipes when the furnace is out.
He also agreed that the man from the furnace company who cleaned the
stove pipe part 4 years ago should have told me to clean the furnace,
and that it would be hard to adjust the furnace since the open
diameter was only half or less what it should have been. (I haven't
started the furnace yet, in about an hour.)
At our hero's request, Mr. Second Guy looked at the pre-fab steel
fireplace, said that the hairline crack needed to be watched, and if
it opened an eighth of an inch, needed furnace cement applied which
wouldn't fix it but would keep the fire in the fireplace, and would
eventually fall off, and the plate could be replaced then. He thought
first guy's price of 380 was fair, but first guy said nothing about
furnace cement or waiting until the crack opened. He didn't ask if
the crack ever opened. He wanted me to fix it now. BTW, I had one
fire since first guy left, and crack doesn't open at all, it's just a
hairline, and the plate moves in one piece when pushed with a
fireplace tool when the fire is at its hottest. Mr. Second guy said
there was often mesh in the plate, the plate is poured around the
mesh, so that holds the pieces together in place even when there is a
The woman who answered the phone for First Guy said the pipes couldn't
be cleaned because of the creosote. Everyone here agreed that you
can't get creosote from #1 or 2 heating oil, but Mr. Second Guy said
that it's rare but he's seen it. He also said I didn't have it,
despite what first guy said.
It turned out that Mr. Second Guy was the owner, and the real hero.
He charged exactly what he said he would, didn't rush, 170, spent 3
hours here, the extra time mostly because of the house's configuration
(he had to either squeeze between the furnace and the water heater,
then the furnace and the wall, or go in under the 4-foot stairway
landing and between the studs holding the landing up; and left no dirt
(except maybe on the floor behind the furnace, where no one will see
it, which I'll clean up when I put in the new furnace). And I gave
him a small tip to make up for watching him the whole time and asking
I will call first guy's boss on the pretense that I think the boss
doesn't know what is going on -- It's conceivable that he doesn't --
and see what he offers to do for me. He'll probably offer to send a
different crew who won't say it's too dirty.
I will rate the first place negative in 2 or 3 places and rate him
positive in the same places.