Not the story I intended….

When is the best time for a heating device to fail? Immediately before the first major storm of the season, of course.

At the end of Fall, when night time temperatures began to drop significantly, I figured it was time to re-activate the gas fire. It was the same sort of device I had in Washington, so I anticipated a good quarter hour of grovelling on the floor in front of the fireplace, using various collections of four letter words to persuade the wretched thing to co-operate.

Amazing the amount of heat a simple pilot light can create. In any case, I always reluctantly turned it off once Winter was past and I did the same here in my new home, with a sense of foreboding. This was a similar device, but not the same. Would I get it to re-start?

No. I wouldn’t.

So this set me debating. Do I attempt to get the thing repaired? Is it even repairable? According to the paperwork in my hand, it was installed some 20 years ago.

Do I need yet another expense in this most horrendously expensive of all years? (That is a story in itself!)

Well, no, but on the other hand, why not get it all done and dusted, as they say. Fix what needs to be fixed, replace where necessary and then start fresh.

Fine. Let’s go for a NEW FIREPLACE!

First mistake, and now I’m wondering if it was actually a mistake….

We went off to a nearby town to look at fireplaces and came away somewhat shocked by the prices we had been quoted. But then, I realized, that town caters to a rather upmarket clientele, so no wonder those prices are so high.

How silly of me.

I located another fireplace shop. The one, in fact, that had installed the 20-year-old, now defunct gas fire.

They had a decent-looking replacement for a more suitable price. Splendid.

Then…. Oh my aching head. Will it ever end?

First of all, it was a matter, apparently, of co-ordinating different people’s schedules. I say people’s but really, as it turned out, it’s a matter of pinning down a single person, he being the installer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the owner had to come have a look, to size up the job. Trying to pin him down to a date is an exercise in futility. He’ll come when he can get here, or when he feels like it, or if the wind is blowing from the east at 20 knots on a Tuesday. You get the idea.

It was all a bit painful, the waiting, the being told vaguely “there are three people ahead of you…it’ll be three weeks……make that four…” etc.

Then the gas fire was delivered. Yay.

And eventually, the installer turned up. Nice guy. Talks a lot, but gets on with the work and he likes my cats. It’s a two day job, but that’s OK.

Then, I find out that things were not precisely spelled out…re the installation fee being my separate responsibility, and over a two-day period, it wasn’t exactly cheap. But we are still under-cutting that up-market place’s quote…a bit.

Wonderful. That’s done then, now what?

Well, um….now I have to find myself another whole separate person to “finish” the job, ie: put tiling around it so I don’t have a hole in the wall all around the new fireplace.

By and by, I was provided with the name of a tile shop and went to make my selection and was provided yet another name of a person who would come to give me a quote for the tiling which, it turns out, is a whole other expense.

I should mention here, that folk around here are very hard to: a. get a hold of and b. to pin down. Often the phone rings and rings and rings……

Sometimes the phone immediately tells you that the voice mail box is full.

Just rarely, someone answers and they promise “I’ll get back to you.” Arrgghh.

The lady at the tile shop told me a dude would call me the next day. He didn’t.

After a couple of emails and another call to tile-lady…

..the guy turned up, sauntered in, sulkily looking as if he was pissed off at the world and particularly me, measured up the fireplace and sauntered back out, muttering darkly that he would send us a quote “soon”.

What I got next day, via tile-lady, was that he “didn’t want the job”.

I won’t write here what I said to that.

Another name was provided and this time a much nicer man turned up and asked if we were “in a hurry.” “Hah!!” I said, “I’d better not be!”

  • It would be a couple of weeks before he could get around to us, but he would send his estimate.
  • And he did.
  • And I fell about laughing. Not only was this over and above the price of “getting a new fireplace”, but it was three times more than I would ever have considered.

I was beginning to find the hole in my wall quite attractive.

So I declined the offer and Grant went off back downstairs muttering something about putting back on his contractor’s hat “again”.

But Grant was busy and I figured after all these weeks, did I really care any more?

note the absence of flame here?

At least we had a functioning gas fire and just in time. Yay. Flames. Heat. Pussy cats so happy. It was just delightful.

Then it started to bang. Bang. BAng. BANg. BANG. BANG!!!!

Does anyone remember the J. Arthur Rank Films man with the gong? Baron (no less) Rank may not be remembered here anymore, but the guy with the gong was the equivalent of the MGM Lion.

That’s what my new gas fire started doing.

Eventually…the installer came back to look, but naturally, like the car that misbehaves until you take it to the fix-it shop, the damn thing wouldn’t bang for him. So off he went, probably thinking I was a silly old fool, but he did say he would return….

He actually turned up again next day, and not only did he hear the noise, but he recorded it, which was just as well, because it turned out that fireplace-man did not really believe there was a problem, but with the evidence…so I am to get a whole new gas fire.

In the meantime, I still had a functioning gas fire and plenty of heat which would keep us going through Thanksgiving, albeit somewhat noisily.

Over Thanksgiving the banging was getting a bit annoying and we began to wonder if the blasted thing would self-destruct.

Well, not quite. But the day before the snow, it made a final BANG, turned itself off and said “I’m done.” And that was that. No more bangs. No more fire. No more heat.

Grant and I tried halfheartedly to persuade it, but to no avail.

The strange thing was, while this was going on, something completely spooked little Willow. She vanished. Gone, no-where to be found. In the end, we located her cowering downstairs, under Grant’s bed. Would not come out. Terrified.

All our other cats were totally unaffected by whatever the great FRIGHT had been.

After poking at her dinner, Willow crept reluctantly upstairs, studiously avoiding the fireplace, and took up residence in my cupboard where she remained for the next two days.

Meanwhile….although the absence of a cheery flame in the fireplace could have cast rather a downer on our weekend, we celebrated the ability to fall back on oil heat. Grant reactivated the boiler and after a short time, with a bit of grinding and puffing, heat came forth from the repulsive baseboard radiators.

As of last report….no deliveries of gas heaters were made last week, but perhaps tomorrow. And perhaps the installer may perhaps be available Friday…

But they “are getting right on it”.

Perhaps I’ll have a gas heater by next Spring…..

Oh…and the price of all this…remember that first, upmarket fireplace…um…

6 thoughts on “Not the story I intended….

  1. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear of all your troubles.What has happened to the decent people who would do what they said they would and not leave you hanging? I have been through some “renovations” that were frustrating, but this happening in the dead of winter is about the worst I can imagine. I’m happy to hear that the humans and kitties are warm as of now. I hope it is all taken care of before the next holidays come. The weeks of Christmas and New Years will be a long period that no one will be available.

  2. We still have the oil heat. I just love to see flames in the fireplace when it’s cold and the kitties enjoy it so much. We are supposed to get the new gas fire installed today. As for the surround….who knows!

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