Continued home improvements . . .

I realize that sleep deprivation and nearly endless pain have made my usually sharp memory a bit more dull, but I seem to remember writing a while back about trying to get our fireplace fixed so we can use it for winter heat.

Well, I FINALLY got an explicit explanation of what made the fireplace “unsafe to use” – it seems some of the bricks in the enclosure are cracked, and the mortar is crumbling, in addition to the chimney liner being cracked.   There is no easy repair.  To make the fireplace able to burn wood again, we’d have to get a mason to tear out the fireplace and rebuild it.

Well, we looked around at other options, and selected a fireplace insert that runs on the same gas that already came into our home for the hot water heater and the furnace.  Except that, being brand new (as opposed to being installed in 1973) it will be FAR more energy efficient.  It cost us about $300 (I think) for the gas line to be run to the fireplace, and the insert itself cost us $3500.

As of Wednesday morning, it is installed and fully operational.

On other updates: I continue to be amazed at how the Dawn Redwood tree I planted in our yard is doing.  Less than two years ago, it was only 2″ tall when I planted it.  It is now over 3 feet tall, and the bottom branches have a diameter nearly equal the height.  It is looking GOOD.  Also, because of all the rain we’ve had this year, the trees the city planted along the new sidewalk grew so tall and so fast that I had to cut some off the tops to keep them from getting top-heavy.  Both are already starting to provide some (albeit small amounts at this stage) shade to the sidewalk, exactly as planned.

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Step by step . . .

Slowly, but surely, our move towards a greener lifestyle continues.

One of the things that we’ve been looking at is that our HVAC system has been in this house since the early 1970’s.  There is no doubt that it will someday need replaced, but in the mean time it is not the most energy efficient.  So, I had the brain storm that if we could come up with a more energy efficient way to heat the house in the winter (i.e. using the fireplace) we might save enough money over time to pay for the update.

Well, it turns out that the reason our fireplace isn’t safe to use is that the liner in the chimney is cracked – and there is NOBODY in this area who replaces cracked liners.  I’ve even used email to contact people in KC, Tulsa, and St. Louis – they won’t even consider traveling so far for the job. So, we started looking at other options.  Or, we thought it would be plural.  Turns out, there was only one option – get a gas-burning fireplace insert.

Of course, that isn’t as easy as just snapping your fingers.  A gas-burning fireplace insert actually needs a gas line to provide the fuel, plus it needs a plug-in to power the regulator.  So, we called our favorite plumber, and asked him if we could get a gas line to the fireplace.  Naturally, he needed to know where it should go, and the salesman who talked to us about the insert didn’t tell us where to put the line.  So, after a few delays over the telephone (the salesman took vacation while I was waiting for the plumber’s estimate) I got an answer on the location.  We got lucky – the best place for the line to enter the fireplace was also the easiest place for the plumber to put it.

So, now the gas line is in place.  The plumber even filled the hole around the pipe with a cement compound that was color matched to the brick, and painted the pipe to match.  We’re very happy with the results.  The next step is the insert itself – at a minimum cost of $3k – but I think we would actually want the $3.5k version.  We’re going to be living with this for a LONG time, if fate is kind.