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Furious with my chimney installer

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Joful, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    A few may remember I had new chimney liners installed on each of my old fireplaces containing woodstoves in October. On one of these, he was to install an insulated 6" smooth-wall flex liner with blanket wrap insulation into my existing 8" ID clay tile chimney, and connect to stovepipe. When I saw the completed job, and noticed he was still running the stovepipe up to my old block-off plate for the 8" chimney, and had stuffed gasket rope around the gap, I had asked him what he had done there. He had basically told me that he had connected the liner to the old block-off plate, since the stovepipe was already set up to connect to that.

    Well, tonight I pulled it apart for my mid-season cleaning, and was blown away by what I found. First, three sections of stovepipe, with NO SCREWS in any of them. They were just sitting as gravity held them on the stove collar. Second, there was no fixed connection between the liner and the stovepipe. He had cut the liner too short, such that it ended just ABOVE the block-off plate. He had crimped the end of the liner, so that it slid into the ID of the stovepipe (which is not bad in itself), but had again used NO SCREWS! Unfortunately, since that junction is above the block-off plate, which is bedded in mortar and stone and butted directly against the bottom of the 8" clay tile liner, there's no way to even install screws there if I had wanted to.

    So, I think what I have is a chimney that works just fine... as long as there is never a chimney fire. I suspect the reasoning for the screws is to keep things together in that unfortunate event, and prevent a chimney fire from quickly turning into a house fire. The only solution is to pull the existing liner, and install one that is at least 4" longer, so that a proper connection may be made between the liner and stove pipe.

    What to do about it? This guy is already pissed with me for (1) making him go back and buy the smooth-wall flex I had requested, when he incorrectly bought standard flex for the job, and (2) making him come back in the early stages of a hurricane to pull off a flagstone chimney topper that he had done a very poor job in setting. He's very highly recommended and reviewed, and seems to be a dead-honest guy, but perhaps not very bright! He is CSIA licensed, although after seeing this, I honestly doubt the importance of those credentials.

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  2. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Then, he should know better. It's not the credentials, it's the person! After all SS screws are a few cents a piece.
  3. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I also don't understand why the liner is too short! Why not drop the liner, then cut it to length? It's a no brainer.
  4. tom dee

    tom dee Member

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    Thats what i been thinking Ive had too many a discussion with a lot of Good ole fellas lotsa good Lore and all that But information thats really worth a Damn is Not abundant lotta old wives tales being told by men he he.. i note lotsa folks in the buis.. are just in a buis to be doin something they think they know a bit about but cannot tell me what a square foot is . or a btu.. funny stuff actually .. So when folks start tellin me to consult a Pro.. I look at em kinda funny .. I dont enjoy being Angry at an Idiot So I dont call em If I ve to do it myself well so be it at leat im not angry its not correct
  5. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    How about adding a junction/liner connector to the top of the chimney, then adding a short section to the top, lowering the liner that is there with that?

    pen
    Dune likes this.
  6. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    He cut it in the driveway, presumably so that he could also cut the insulating blanket and do the wrapping at the finished length, rather than wrapping more than necessary and then cutting off.

    Good thought. However, I'm torn between "make it work," and "make it right." This should have never been done, his mistake, not mine. I paid $1050 for this?

    What really has me peeved is that I was going to do this particular liner myself, but since I needed someone with more balls than brains to do the other liner (those who've seen photos know why), I figured I'd just have him do this one while they were on-site. I would not have made this mistake, not because I know what I'm doing, but because I'd ask the right questions of you fine folks before making the first cut.
  7. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Guess it depends on how far you think it's worth pushing the envelope.

    pen
  8. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I know nothing bout a liner coming down a chimney but sure would have thought it would just screw to the stove.
    How do you get back in there to do that if the stove is in the way though?
  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yep. That's where the conundrum lies.

    I think step 1 is to call Duravent (they supplied the liner), and confirm that this is not acceptable. Get their opinion on an acceptable solution. Step 2 will be to call the installer, have him come out here, and explain to me why he did not follow the same instructions that he gave me for hooking up the second stove (which was not yet in place when he ran the other liner). I even remember him correcting me when I said I'd use three screws per stovepipe junction, and he said, "no, you need four." Hopefully he'll suggest a full replacement, although I already anticipate his answer will be, "it's perfectly fine as it is."
  10. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Might need to move it ;)
  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The three screws aren't for chimney fires they are there for the "whoofing" you see talked about here. That happens with all stoves. Well, maybe except for Dennis's. So that the pipe sections don't separate from the pressure and start venting into the living space. A must. Not an option.

    Pen is on it with adding a liner section and then lowering it.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Getting at the stovepipe is easy, as they're big fireplaces (see avatar). Getting to the block-off plate is a little tricky, though. There's actually room for a ladder in each fireplace, but this one in particular has some iron bars running front to back in the tapered smoke-chamber area, and the taper means you almost need to stand on the stove (not recommended) to get at the liner connection.

    Here's what I did on the liner he did not finish off (new stove):

    P2150006.JPG

    That's a stove pipe to an appliance adaptor, and then the liner, right below the block-off plate. The block-off plate is 18" x 48" (yes, that's a very big flue).

    Here's what the installer did on the other stove, where he handled the stove hook-up:

    P2150005.JPG

    He inserted the stove pipe up into this hole, and likely fiddled with it a bit to get the liner to go into the stovepipe. Then he started sticking the other pieces of stovepipe on below that, and because he did not bother getting a telescoping stovepipe (like I did for the other stove), he must have just held it all there while connecting the reverseable flange onto the back of the Firelight 12. Then he jammed gasket rope up around the stovepipe, where it went thru that collar on the block-off plate.

    This stove has one of the common 45-degree reverseable stovepipe flanges, so that it may be switched between top and rear exit. Of course, there was no way for him to get the little 1/4" rope gasket right on that flange while supporting all this stovepipe, so it was a leaky joint, which may be part of my poor draft problems with this stove.
  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Hah! I think I'm the one who has talked most about "whoofing" this year at the hearth. It has been a serious problem with this particular stove. Lucky I never had the pipes lift off!
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Probably a tight enough fit between that block off plate/liner that there wasn't room for the pipe to separate. Or you haven't had "the big one" where you can hear the liner crinkle all the way to the top. That is an attention grabber.
  15. sailor61

    sailor61 Burning Hunk

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    It's called Small Claims Court....send him a demand letter that clearly states what is not done correctly, tell him he has X days to repair it OR you will be filing suit in Small Claims Court. However read the fine print on the contract/quote and see what that has to say, if anything, about remediation of claims. What do you care if he gets mad at you? You're certainly not about to hire him again...so go for complete correction - not patching - of the issues on his dime
  16. Matt Ruggeri

    Matt Ruggeri New Member

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    That sucks man, i'll be watching this one for sure! Why does this seem to be so common with installers? Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts! There were no screws on any of the pipe inside my house, Never gave it a thought until i took it apart to do maintenance on the stove when the damm pipe just fell off the wall thimble. I was horrified to say the least! Called my installer, and he says this is common practice in the trade. !!!
  17. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    First, how difficult is it for an installer to put in a few screws? Second, why would they want to open themselves up for a lawsuit if your house caught fire because of their laziness? It is really hard to find quality workmanship and someone who takes pride in their work anymore.
    Matt Ruggeri likes this.
  18. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    My install about 10 years ago was $2,000+, so yours sounds like a "deal". Finding an installer with both the balls and brains meant a lot of evening phone calls and waiting months for his schedule to allow the install. We are getting ready to contact the same guy in hopes of having another flue lined by fall.

    In your case, I would review my options, balancing my need for service down the road against the quality of alternative installers. If he still comes out on top, I would eat crow and repair the relationship by paying him well to do it right, and not look back.
  19. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

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    In Mass there is a remediation process for licensed home improvement installers. You file a claim to the state to the fund and the fund pays the claim and tracks the complaints against the fund and if too many, the installer lose their license. Licensing fees paid to the state fund the "fund" . Check to see if CT has such a system. Designed several years ago to keep such things out of small claim court and also to track the performance of the installers/Home Improvement professionals etc.
  20. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Hah! You weren't around last summer, when we were debating options for the new install, originally quoted as "to code" at $30,000, or "with variance" at $10,000. In the end, the outfit quoting those figures, based on claims there were structural wood timbers running thru my 240 year old chimney was proven to be a scam. It did cost us several months lost time, and about $1000 in inspection fees, though.

    The trouble with your "research", and with my own, is it's mostly based on reviews from customers who don't know their head from their poophead. How many similar installs has this guy done for folks who then pay him to do their yearly cleaning, and just never know the install was wrong? I use only very highly recommended contractors, checking them on both BBB and Angie's list, and still see far too much crap like this.

    I'm pretty sure we have no such system, but I will check, if he's not willing to make this right. This guy does have a state contractors' license number on all his paperwork, for what it's worth.

    Quick geography quiz... where is Philadelphia? ;)
  21. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    I dislike any extra drama in my life, I would do as BB and Pen suggest and lengthen the liner at the top and be done with it. If the clown couldn't do it right the first time I have no faith he can do it right the second. By the time you get done dealing with him or the courts and wasting your time you can lengthen it and move on.
    pen likes this.
  22. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, but where do I buy 12 inches of blanket-wrapped smooth-wall flex liner?
  23. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Joful

    I think the best way to prevent these problems is to babysit whoever is doing the job and don't be afraid to speak up during the install.
    rdust might have the right idea to fix it yourself, but maybe a middle of the road approach is to tell the guy you would like to be there when he fixes it and "help" him.
    Oldhippie likes this.
  24. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    True - I was only commenting on the cost you provided relative to my cost. It still appears to have been a low cost for an installation.

    I do as much of my own work as I can, due to being disappointed with work done by some of the recommended best, but I don't carry a tall step ladder onto my roof to reach the top of my chimneys. Our slate roof needs some repair and it has been amazing to experience the dismal customer service necessary simply to get an estimate. I understand the frustration. In my location the alternatives are limited and I simply am not going up there, so relationships and $$ are my only leverage.
  25. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Ok, tough to tell from the photos...but could that block off plate be reversed with the flange/sleeve facing upwards? Would that allow the liner end to be exposed below the block off plate? And if so, would it be enough to connect to the stove pipe and get some screws into the joint?

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