Monday, July 14, 2008

Where’s Bert When You Need Him?

Three years and three and a half months later we finally have two working fireplaces. Not that the second one was ever broken, but the previous owners had temporarily closed it off with cardboard and styrofoam. Jon and I thought about using it many times in the cold winter months but we didn't want to risk it until we could have the chimney professionally cleaned, and of course, because it involved money, we were putting it off as long as possible.

Last Thursday night, while I was wallowing in self pity on the basement floor, I started to hear odd sounds coming from the fireplace, or more specifically, something was knocking against the styrofoam. I'd recently been told a story about a couple who heard noises coming from their attic but didn't do anything about it, only to have a beehive and thousands of live bees fall on their bed in the middle of the night, so of course I went running to Jon, frantically exclaiming that we had to get someone here pronto to check on the chimney because he is allergic to bees and surely he would die if thousands of bees came out of the fireplace to attack him.

He wasn't quite as upitty about it as I was but that didn't stop him from throwing the possibility of bats out there to scare me even more. So we called around but the soonest we could get anyone out here was Monday morning. We were all, dude, there are animals in our fireplace just waiting to eat us, and all of the local chimney sweeps were like, sorry, we're backed up from the July 4th holiday. Don't you know people like to have fires on holidays? So we waited.

My logical side knew there couldn't be an animal because the dogs would have fretted about the noise before I did and they would have been simultaneously staring at and slobbering on the fireplace by then, but that didn't stop me from inspecting the dark corners of the basement for beady eyes before finishing each decent down the stairs. I must admit there was one occasion on Friday night where I flung my arms around and batted at the air while shrieking because I thought I'd seen something out of the corner of my eye. I've never actually encountered a bat before, but I'd seen what happens in the movies and it is never pleasant.

At 8:15 this morning Frank from Super Sweep Chimneys pulled into our driveway. He was everything that I had expected--a rough looking guy in his mid 50s with salt and pepper hair, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans covered in paint and soot. He brought a vacuum cleaner the size of my couch and made the house smell like burning dust. He was everything that I expected but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was secretly hoping for a Mary Poppins-esque Dick Van Dyke to heed our call with stilts for legs and springs for heels, singing in all of his Chim Chimney glory. Dick Van Dyke was a true chimney sweep. Frank was a chimney plummer with expensive toys.

All disappointment aside, he cleaned our two chimneys well, didn't try to sell us on anything extra (I appreciate it when they're honest about the amount of time something has left), and he told us that all we were hearing was some built up soot falling onto the styrofoam. There were no raccoons, birds, bats, or bees living in our chimney, just a lining in desperate need of a cleaning.

Not that I don't appreciate his services, we will certainly be calling his company again when our chimney needs another cleaning or any repairs, but I feel silly for spending so much money on something I won't even use for another 3 or 4 months. Then again, I hear summer holidays are a popular time to light up the fireplaces...s'mores anyone?

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