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Jenga anyone?

      I used to love to play Jenga with my kids---it is a great game that requires skill, patience, planning and an “appreciation” of gravity.  One wrong move and the whole thing could collapse.

This chimney is garbage     Over the years I have seen a lot of chimneys.  In fact a chimney almost got me fired back in 1970 when I was working part time for one of my college professors.  This was all way before I could have ever imagined ending up being a Seattle Home Inspector 39 years later.  I spent weekends and breaks doing handyman work for him while his house was being remodeled.  I ended up working for this builder for about a year after he fired the guy he had working for him at the time.  While the following incident is not what got Jay fired, I am sure it did not help his case any.  The builder sent him up on the roof to start shingling the roof.  The roof had been covered with felt paper the day before.  We could here the dull thud of “occasional” nails being driven----until the builder couldnt take it any longer and he went up on the roof to see what kind of “progress” Jay was making. 

     Jay was shingling the roof from the top down! 

     When questioned about this “less than conventional” approach to installing shingles, Jay merely stated, “This the way I always do it.” 

Why is Oscar the Grouch on my Roof?     After this event----and some other events that ultimately got Jay fired, I figured this was my chance to ask the builder for a job.  I figured I could EASILY do better than Jay.

     The next day----or soon thereafter----the builder sent me up on an older part of the roof to tear down the chimney.  Seemed simple enough, and even sounded like fun.  So, there I was up on the roof and knocking the bricks apart and throwing them two stories down onto the lawn----having a ton of fun trying to hit the bricks that were already embedded in the grass below.  It was not long before I had a growing pile of bricks and a boss running and screaming out of the house like he had pulled up his trousers with a hornet’s nest in them.  He was waving his hat----his bald red head glistening in the sun----saying things I really can’t repeat here.  He wanted to know what the “H” “E” double hockey sticks I thought I was doing.  Like his previous helper I merely said (but a little baffled), “This is the way I always do it.”    After he calmed down a bit, he informed me that he meant the OTHER chimney.  “Oh,” I said. 

     But he didn’t fire me and the rest of the story----is my whole life.

 

     Like I said at the start of this post----over the years, I have seen a lot of chimneys.

     The chimney pictured below, from an inspection I did the other day, is perhaps the worst chimney I have ever seen.  And I am sure that left to its own devices it will soon find its way to the lawn below, “That is the way they always do it.” 

 

 World's worst chimney

     Jenga anyone?

Charles Buell

 

Seattle Home Inspectors, ASHI Home Inspector, Licensed Home Inspector, Structural Pest Inspector, Charles Buell Inspections Inc, Seattle, WA

 

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Comment balloon 26 commentsCharles Buell • September 23 2009 08:17AM

Comments

I'm not as confident as you are... from the appearance of that last chimney, it looks like it might find it's way through the living room into the basement, missing the lawn entirely.

What's even more frightening, is it appears to have been recently "patched" (and I use the term "patched" very loosely).

btw: nice garage roof, too.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) about 9 years ago

Alan, in the post I HAD to follow the story line:)  You are absolutly right if this thing falls "castetrophically it is more likely to end up in the basement than on the grass:) (I was hoping people would notice the garage----the house roof was barely better!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Charles are you sure this isn't some kind of contemporary sculpture - leaning tower of bricks?

Posted by Janice Roosevelt, OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker ( Keller Williams Brandywine Valley ) about 9 years ago

Janice----could be---I think they must have used "magic-mortar":)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Surely this one wouldn't qualify as performing its intended function...Unless of course its intended function was to make the neighbors laugh when looking at it!

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) about 9 years ago

That is the worst chimney I have even seen as well. I would have been afraid to walk within 10 feet for fear it would topple.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

Craig I am glad no one had arrived to the house yet when I saw it because I DID laugh out loud:)

James, yes, I thought about walking near it and deflecting the roof enough to "put it over the edge."  Spontaneus collapse is a real possibility.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Maybe they used "imaginary" mortar, after all, it works on mushroom houses.  It cracks me up to think you took down the wrong chimney...I'm glad you did if it landed you where you are now.

Posted by Kathleen Frawley, South County Sacramento, 916 730 4404 (Keller Williams 916 730-4404 Elk Grove, Wilton, Folsom, Sacramento) about 9 years ago

Kathleen, as the builder and I re-built the chimney together I was able to make a connection with the builder that quickly erased the error of my ways and we became pretty good friends:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

This reminds me of a house I saw drawn in a book of fables. Cute idea...not so realistic. People can amaze you!

Posted by Dinah Lee Griffey, Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties (Windermere Peninsula Properties) about 9 years ago

Dinah, it does kind of look like something from Dr Seus:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

I just love the way you tell a story Charles.  But, I hope no one is standing on the lawn looking up at that chimney, they might be getting a brick in the eye soon.  Now tell me??? is it age, or was it built wrong?  I see chimneys and fireplaces in fields around here where the house rotted away decades ago.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) about 9 years ago

Tammy, good questions---complicated answers:)  This chimney has been badly damaged its whole life most ly from the "inside."  Because when it was built (lots were done this way) it was never lined so the combustion by-products from the oil fired furnace destroyed the mortar from the inside out----gas fired will do the same thing.  Once the mortar can no longer hold together the chimney ends up looking like the one in the picture-----usually they get fixed before they get this bad.  So in a sense it was built wrong---but not built crooked----that just happened over time.  Those chimneys you see standing around the country side were more than likely fireplace chimneys and the houses burned down around them rather than rotted away from them.  Without using them to vent gas and oil appliances they could go on standing a long time----eventually just plain rain water will take its toll on them and they too will come tumbling down.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

Did you ever consider that they thought the chimney should be trashed but it was too hard to handle so they did it the other way around?

Nutsy, who you gonna call?

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Charles, now that is a really bad chimney!  Yikes!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Nutsy, that don't make no sense

Pat, don't you love the way you can see right through it?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

That trash can pic is hilarious. 

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) about 9 years ago

Vince----functional as well:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Oh my....I would be very afraid of that last one, but if you look closely at the one covered in foliage it looks as if it has eyes and a smiley face. LOL

Posted by Janice MacMillan, Associate Broker (ERA Joyner Realty) about 9 years ago

Jan, yes, the ivy is photo-shopped and goes back to a post I did called Why is Oscar the Grouch on My Roof?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Hello Charles, I love Jenga.  I've had trouble with birds in chimneys; Swifts in a larger opening chimney, and starlings in smaller ones (and oh yes, Nutsy's cousin came down one chimney and succumbed in there as the fireplace doors were closed -- no tears here however...).  Do you think the garbage can or extra ventilated chimney would help with the avian pests?  John

Posted by Alexander- Slocum, Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate (Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington) about 9 years ago

John, there are lots of vermin screen/spark arrestor chimney caps out there in the market place.  No flue should be open with out a proper cap.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Nasty chimney, nasty garage roof, nasty house roof... I assume the rest of the house was pristine?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

I will be doing a post about the porch real soon:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

You appear to have swiped some photos from Virginia.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, didn't I leave my card in the door?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

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