Portland Fireplace and Chimney
23 October 2016
Dear Louis and staff,
Thank you for the beautifully-crafted chimney that Brandon built for our old house! From the beginning of our association with your company, you folks have been very patient in explaining about the world of chimneys and vents, and now you have proven yourselves to be skilled in craftsmanship and ingenious in surmounting obstacles.
When Louis came to the house to prepare an estimate for installing a gas-insert in the old fireplace, he climbed up on the steep roof to examine the chimney. He documented his report with clear photos of the (bad) condition of the chimney, including shots of condensation marks inside, where the water-heater vent had discharged at a level below the top of the chimney and eaten away at the mortar. The chimney was structurally unsound, held together by mortar so badly deteriorated that the tear-down crew was able to clean bricks by rubbing them together.
The chimney had been built in a complex and decorative antique style. We agreed to have Portland Fireplace and Chimney reconstruct the chimney from the roof up, in exactly the same style, using new brick. They also installed a proper vent for the hot-water heater, in such a way that the vents from the gas-insert will meet code.
Brandon, the mason who oversaw the project and built the chimney, is an exceptionally-talented craftsman. I’ve done many crafts myself and can appreciate the level of skill that results in a finished piece that’s so perfectly put together that the skill disappears and the piece looks effortless. The new chimney looks like it just appeared, fully-formed, or has always been there. The house was built in 1860 and moved to its present location around 1900. That’s a long interval for re-plumbing and wiring and ducting of the house’s systems, and there were some “surprises”–such as the sewer pipe in the chimney–all of which Brandon conquered. His brickwork around the new hot-water heater pipe in the basement is also perfect—no places where it looks like he struggled with the odd shapes caused by a cylinder meeting a wall at an angle—it is all a perfect fit. And, this is located in an area of the basement that very few people will ever see. Likewise for his rebuilding of the brick in the fireplace, which is perfect work that will be hidden by the gas-insert. It means a lot when someone has that degree of pride in his or her work!
The project also provided entertainment for the neighbors, who got to watch as a two-and-a half-story scaffold was built on the driveway, with a “road” across to the roof where a platform was built around the chimney. As the work was nearing completion, a number of neighbors came by to offer congratulations on the “beautiful chimney.”
Thank you all!
Teresa Ann Ellis and Michael Nadler