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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: fallstoclimb on October 28, 2013, 06:47:39 AM

Title: Chimney/Furnace Flue and Carbon Monoxide....
Post by: fallstoclimb on October 28, 2013, 06:47:39 AM
We just had our chimney inspected (bought the house last May, the guy who said the general inspection said he couldn't get up in the chimney so we'd have to have someone else look at it before we used it).  Of course the chimney inspector found some problems -- some gaps at the top of the chimney he'd fix for $200 (NBD), and apparently the chimney has gaps in it and needs a new liner, which he quoted for $1500.  He also said the furnace flue -- which is apparently related to the chimney? -- has some gaps and needs to be relined for $1500. 

The chimney stuff I would like to put off another year or two, as we just put ourselves on an uber-aggressive schedule to FINALLY pay off my student loans in 14 months.  I'd rather just not use the chimney than turn that into 15 or 16 months.  HOWEVER, he said the furnace gap could mean that we shouldn't really be using our furnace (uh, we are, its cold), and we are risking a carbon monoxide leak.  We do have a carbon monoxide detector, but I'd rather not put my life in the hands of a fallable detector!

We're going to get estimates from a second person, but it'll take a few weeks I imagine before we can have someone come out.  Is using the furnace in the meantime a terrible idea?  I figure the previous owners were using it with this leak for a long time.  The inspector of course immediately scared us with a story of a family in a nearby town who had a carbon monoxide leak and the detector failed and they nearly died (which made me trust the inspector a little less, immediately resorting to fear tactics, although maybe he also feels a responsibility to make sure people take the issue seriously?).

I'm wondering if it makes any sense to get the furnace flue relined in the time being, and put off the chimney flue a few years, or is this the sort of fix that should be done together?  We have an emergency fund of 6K, but re-funding anything we pull out of it will slow down the loan pay-off.  Given that its just about a year, we don't have kids, and worst case scenario of something else major going wrong with the house I'm pretty sure my parents would give us an interest-free loan, I'm thinking we'll pay for just the furnace flue to be relined and then just live with an e-fund of $4500 for a year...if we have extra money above my super-aggressive loan payoff schedule we may be able to refund it a bit, but there's not going to be much leftover.   
Title: Re: Chimney/Furnace Flue and Carbon Monoxide....
Post by: zarfus on October 28, 2013, 11:09:00 AM
Ugh, I hate dealing with chimney crap.
1) I would fix the furnace flue.  Carbon monoxide is a real danger (unlike basement radon poisoning, which I'm still not convinced or unconvinced, but this is off-topic :))

2) Yes, the scare tactics are incredibly lame. I would call a new chimney guy and get a get a quote. If it's higher, use your old quote as leverage to lower the cost.

3) Our general inspector also missed our chimney problems, we had a cracked flue tile.  Your estimate for the liner @1500 is less than ours (2500).  We decided to convert it to a gas fireplace (brought up a gas line from the basement for ~300, and bought and self-installed logs for ~150).  We still need to open the flue for the vapors (again, carbon monoxide is a real danger :)), but I'm not concerned about the cracked flue tile since a gas fireplace has no burning embers flying up the chimney.  Risk of a chimney fire is much lower, if not risk-free.

I'm no expert, but this is what I would do/did in a similar situation.  We use our gas fireplace as a cheap source of heat now, without heating the entire house all the time.
Title: Re: Chimney/Furnace Flue and Carbon Monoxide....
Post by: fallstoclimb on October 28, 2013, 12:31:21 PM
Thanks, this is helpful.  We are going to get the furnace flue fixed but can't get another quote until Nov 15th.  It's not totally unreasonable to continue using the furnace in the meantime, right, despite the small risk of carbon monoxide?

Interesting idea about the gas fireplace.