Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chimney and Stoves, Part I

My wife and I are looking on spending between $5,000 and $6,000 year heating our home with oil.  Our furnace is approximately 60 years old, and in fact on 12/2/2011, I had the oil tank filled costing us $694.33 for 185.7 gallons.  Last time we had the tank filled was on October 12.

On the weekend of 12/3/2011, I had the chimney inspected.  I was a little disappointed with the inspection.  I had to wait a month for the appointment and when the two man crew came in, they spent 15 minutes walking around as I took them to each fireplace.  After the walk through, the attic was seen, then the basement.  Finally, one man climbed to the roof and looked down the chimney.  That's it.  I was charged $150 for a visual inspection (Level 1) and all they told me was what I already knew.  That my chimney is unlined.  Yey, thanks for wasting my money...  Not only did I waste a month, waste $150 for information I already knew, I also received a citation from the chimney sweep that I have a code violation.  Now that's a WTF moment if anything.

I was also given an estimate for repair.  The oil furnace has a 7" diameter exhaust that is ducted to the chimney, but is also unlined.  For $2,500, the Sweep will install a liner for that exhaust.  It's important since the exhaust, like an automobile's exhaust, contains carbon monoxide.  Being un-lined allows the gases to potentially leak through cracks in the chimney.

The sweep also noted moss growing on the chimney cap's exterior bricks.  For $475, the cap can be cleaned and sealed.

Also, for $1,200 to $1,400, they will install a stove that I buy separately whose price includes a liner.

With this knowledge, my wife and I went stove shopping.  We ended up at a large showroom with several different styles, sizes and brands.  I found out that stove makers make exclusive contracts with distributors who are the only ones allowed to sell that brand within a set radius forcing a price point that is hard to beat.  No real competition...

Regardless of the above, we saw and liked a particular stove called a Lopi Leyden.  From the salesperson we found out that the unit is made in America, cast iron and a higher quality than average.  Reviews online show a 50/50 opinion in regards to quality of build.  You can fill the stove either from the front double doors or from the top.  It's roughly 500 lbs in weight and since it burns wood, requires a 6" liner.  The larger the liner, the more expensive.

We got a quote of $1999 for the stove itself and another $1000 for the liner plus $600 for basic installation.  I tried my best to explain to the salesman that we don't have your typical setup.  We have an antique home.... somehow, when I explain this to people, they don't seem to understand.  Photos are the only way to express a thousand words:

 I sent all these photos to make sure that the salesman knew exactly what it was that he was dealing with so that there were no surprises during the installation.  I also included a photo of the exterior of our home showing the chimney.  I wanted to get an appropriate estimate for the installation of the stove as well as the cost to install the liner for the oil boiler.  With all this information, he waited a week saying that he's trying to get information...
Hi Steve, spoke with Matt my installer. He's thinking by looking at the pics and doing a quick drive by that your chimney opening is 48 x 48. Let me know if you have any questions.
Sent from my Samsung Captivate
 That's nice, but this was emailed a week after the photos were submitted.  I replied with:
Great, so where does that leave us with an estimate for the installation of a 7" diameter liner for the oil furnace AND updated installation costs for the wood burning stove? 
A couple days pass and no response:
I hate to pester, but I am still waiting to hear from you regarding the installation costs.
I also apologize for using your personal email, as I do not have your work email.
Thanks, Steve 
A response, finally:
Its no bother at all Steve. Monday i was playing phone tag with (name) a couple times. Either he was in the middle of an install or I was unavailable. Yesterday i was off. Im going to ask him if he could leave a approx figure should i miss his call again. Take care. I'll talk to you soon with an update. 
Ok, so I'll wait for him to get in touch with his installer......
Good morning Steve
I wanted to give you an update. I spoke with (name) briefly yesterday. He advised me that he wouldn't be able to do the job for you because he's so backed up with installs on stoves. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
This salesman is just wasting my time...
This is really disappointing.  Waiting for information for two weeks only to read that your installer's opinion on cost is that he's too busy?  That's F'd up, to be blunt.
I suppose I should take my business else where, if this is the level of service I am to expect from Dean's Stove and Spa.  We like the stove but putting a serious buyer on the back burner and showing nothing for it is ridiculous.  You could have been more professional about it and gave us a proper quote but added, "unfortunately, our installer is not available until...". No, instead you blew us off for two weeks, then had the balls to say, in essence, that your installer is too lazy to figure out a quote.  I put great effort in creating a detailed plan with photographs, I can see I only wasted my time.
A review of this business will be made.
Quite disappointing.  Good luck with your future endeavors.
I am still planing on installing a wood stove, but not from Dean's Stove and Spa.  Perhaps I will buy one from them and have the chimney sweep install it.  After emailing the above, still annoyed, I wouldn't want to give a commission to this salesman.

There is a tax rebate of 10% for wood stoves of over 75% efficiency for the 2011 tax year.  Hence, why my time is being wasted by this salesman.