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Blocked Chimney Disaster

sparkie Member Posts: 49
Hi everybody, I recently had a disaster at my house. Hired a chimney contractor to install a small wood/coal stove. They totally botched the job. In one of their attempts to fix a downdraft problem, they put a mickey mouse extension on the oil flue and placed the vent cap on way to low which partially obstructed the flue causing fumes to backup into the house over a 5 week period. Entire house is now contaminated and so is everything in that we own. My family is now forced to huddle in a camper in our driveway because the house is unlivable. The smell in the house at first was a very pungent, rancid and putrid odor you could imagine. It resembled a chloroform/ether/formaldehyde odor. Along with a biting salty acidic taste which would make your lips sting and burn your throat. ServiceMaster is coming to clean the house but we lost all our food, bedding, clothes, furniture, rugs etc... At this point, the smell has morphed into a salt like particulate hanging in the air. I'm hoping they can get the house back to normal, but my main concern and question is: Can this have any long term deteriorating effects on other mechanical systems in the house such as: plumbing, electrical, duct work etc...? All advice welcome. We are in a desperate situation. Thank you.
Mad Dog_2


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,415
    Well... the good news is that it probably won't have affected hard mechanical systems and fistures of one kind or another, although everything will have to be cleaned. That's the end of the good news.

    However... you may find as you work on things that the damage has extended into the wood and other more or less porous materials of the house -- and may be almost impossible to get out.

    In other words... you may be looking at a total loss here. I hope the chimney contractor has good liability insurance, and you have a good lawyer.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mad Dog_2GGross
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,095
    Geez..I'm so sorry for your troubles Brother.  Count your blessings...you and the fambly are still vertical and breathing. Fire 🔥 place and chimney work is very enigmatic and quirky..kinda like The Steam.  I've worked in many homes after the same things have happened.  I've had puff backs and 🔥 fireplace soot all thru my home I'm currently in. The chimney guy I used for years had his yo yo 50 yr old assistant to the cleaning.  I never heard the end of it from The Long-suffering Barbara .  But these restoration companies are AWESOME.   They will get your house back   guaranteed!   What is the contractors response?  Is he going to do the right thing?  Being "Almost famous" and almost a Lawyer amounts to be about the same thing, right?  As an I almost became a lawyer, plumber, NEVER sue unless they offer you no other choice because yiu know who wins in the end?  THE TWO LAWYERS!
    Hopefully, he DOES have good insurance and all will be covered.  He'd never work in my house again, but if he's contrite maybe you'll get some free labor or he'll mow your lawn for a year...a penance. It's rare these day but the Old Timers did it.  It was a way to make things sqaure in the small Villages
    Of Europe and then here.  Keep us posted and count your blessings...Tabula Rasa
    (CLEAN SLATE -Iatin)   mad dog
  • Waher
    Waher Member Posts: 253
    edited March 2023
    Always use a Chimney Safety Institute of America
    and or a
    National Chimney Sweep Guild certified contractor.

    Short vent caps over oil boiler flues are a frequent mistake by dodgy contractors that result in puff-backs or worse.

    The industrial hygienists that work for restoration companies are usually pretty good. They'll figure out what your house needs. Remember that they make houses with major water, smoke, and fire damage habitable again on a routine basis. They've seen this sort of contamination before and know how to deal with it.
    Mad Dog_2
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,467
    So, if you are experiencing smell and smoke problems are you using the appliance for as long as you did? I see joint culpability, here.