It's not about the house.

Monday, February 5, 2007

A Fistful Of Dollars

Here’s what the chimney sweep had to say: neither of the flues (one for the fireplace, one for the furnace) are lined. This we knew. Neither of them are safe to use unlined. This we didn’t know. This means we shouldn’t even have our heat on, or we’re risking… what? I’m not entirely clear on this point.

I see what he's saying and all about how a stray spark from the fireplace could go through a loose bit in the masonry and wind up lighting the attic on fire. That part I get. I wish I hadn't heard it, but I get it. But there shouldn't be sparks going up the furnace flue, right? I mean — right? I mean, if there are sparks going up the furnace flue, haven't we got bigger problems than the lack of a chimney liner? (And, having said that, I knock wood and bite my tongue, because lord knows if I speak of the devil he kicks his way straight through the goddamn door.)

So whatever. Okay. Apparently it isn’t “safe” to have our heat on. But guess what? It’s on. Just like it has been for the last hundred freaking years since the house was freaking built. And if it isn’t safe to have the heat on but yet it is on, then what’s stopping me from lighting a fire in the fireplace? It’s not any less safe than it was yesterday, when I didn’t know this, right? I mean — right?

What he said to us exactly was “You could have ten thousand fires in that fireplace and never have a problem — or you could have one and burn the house down.”

What I have not yet mentioned (because it chokes me to think about it), but which I hope explains my weighing the relative merits of risking burning down the house, is that he quoted us a price to make it right – meaning safe, meaning up to fucking code, meaning five thousand, one hundred and twenty-five dollars. That’s $5125, for those of you skimming ahead.


Oh, hell. I have a credit card with a $6000 limit and a zero balance – a zero balance which I have carefully cultivated over the past however-many years by first paying down the balance that was on it and then paying the bill in full every month after that; a zero balance that has itself earned me the $6000 limit that is on the card. But I do have that card, with its $6000 limit and its zero balance, and I also have the one-in-ten-thousand chance of burning down my house. And so I have to ask myself: am I feeling lucky?

Well, am I?

Yeah, not so much. Not really.


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