Monday, April 07, 2008

Through the roof... with the chimney! (Fireplace XII)

The combination of a pulled muscle and overly neglected farm chores conspired to bring construction at our house to a halt for a couple of weeks. But things finally went into high gear last week when the mason convinced one of his sons (also a mason) to visit for a week and help with the chimney. They worked on the chimney from the inside of the house without much help from me for a couple of days.

When they reached the ceiling, I moved the crane around to the back yard and pulled the temporary metal roof off of the "chimney hole." In between trips to the kids' school and little league practices, my wife ran the crane with me at the end of it so we would not have to build scaffolding on top of the slate roof.

Chimney construction slowed down again at the roof line for several reasons. The masons passed block from inside the peak of the house for as long as they possibly could (using the ladder lift shown in the picture). Ultimately though, they had to seal up the last hole inside the house and bring materials to the chimney from outside the house. At that point, I used the crane to ferry block and mortar up to the chimney. The mason's son stood in the chimney while building it, so it looked more like a crow's nest than a chimney.

The big 16x20 flues were too heavy for one person to lift, yet only one person fit on (in?) the chimney at a time, so I volunteered to set the big flues using the crane (with my wife operating). It was actually very easy, but each of the 150 pound flues could have easily become a 150 pound wrecking ball if my wife hadn't been so careful with the crane controls.

Because the chimney is smaller than I anticipated 3 years ago when designing the house, it was necessary to add 2 courses of slate where the chimney exits the roof. (technically I had to rip off two courses of slate and then add 4 courses of slate.) Then I used 16 ounce copper for flashing. Only the copper apron at the bottom of the chimney required soldering. Further up, between each course of slate, I inserted step flashing. Then as the mason's son laid the chimney in a stair cased fashion, I fabricated custom sized pieces of counter flashing to insert into the block work. The system of step flashing and counter flashing allows the chimney and roof to settle independently of each other, since neither of the two types of flashing are rigidly connected.

Our allotment of sunshine expired and the rain began not long after the chimney came through the roof. The mason's son was a good sport and continued to work on the chimney in the rain, so that we could get as much of it flashed (and watertight) as possible. When it seemed that his enthusiasm was waning, I volunteered to park the crane platform above him to keep some of the water off of him. He worked on until finally the cinderblocks (if not the actual flue liners) were above the roof line. I said, "Good enough, make sure not to leave anything obstructing the pizza oven flue!" And with that, I flew him back down to the ground. We ran into the house to get dry, and began collecting scraps of hickory flooring... to start the first pizza oven fire!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for quite some time and am fascinated by it. The work you do, and the craftsmanship involved, are truly remarkable. Keep up the great work, and please keep sharing!

April 10, 2008 at 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...

I can't find your email anywhere. I wanted to ask you how you got the text to display so wide on your blog. I haven't found the setting and the narrow text column on mine is driving me nuts. I'd actually like to mimic the layout of yours. Please let me know if you can.
PS. Anxiously awaiting your next blog update.

May 20, 2008 at 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Sven said...

Good Job! :)

August 20, 2008 at 8:16 AM  

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