Fireplace repair gone bad finally made right

Michele and Tom Grieves of Oak Ridge hired a fireplace company to do some work, but then had to hire a second company to fix the repairs.

Let’s hope it won’t be chimney weather for a long time.

Sure, it’s spring, but the Grieves family had a fall and winter with a newly remodeled but utterly unusable gas fireplace.

While the weather was still cold, the Oak Ridge couple turned to Bamboozled for help with an unsatisfactory conversion of their wood-burning fireplace, including parts that did not fit and damage to previously immaculate parts, courtesy of Pompton’s A&J Fireplace Plains.

“I now have a fireplace that I can no longer use with a grill cover tied around the chimney to keep water from leaking into my house,” Tom Grieves said in a March email.

The Grieveses started shopping back in September so that the fireplace would be ready in time for the 2010 holidays. After receiving estimates from three contractors, Michele Grieves said they chose A&J based on owner John Huerta’s 30 years experience. A coupon that cut the price 20 percent helped the couple’s decision.

Michele Grieves said she authorized Huerta to order gas logs and a new chimney damper, and she left a $ 675 security deposit.

The work
When the doorbell rang on October 27, 2010, Michele Grieves said she had gotten a surprise.

“Much to my dissatisfaction, I didn’t get John with over 30 years of experience; I had two young inexperienced employees knocking on my door,” she said. “They arrived very unprepared, took a look at the fireplace and immediately started drilling a hole in the bottom of the fireplace for the gas pipe.”

Grieves said the workers’ hammer drill bit wasn’t working so they borrowed one from the homeowners. Soon after, Grieves said, asked them to stop because they were aiming at the radiator – the hot air circulator – under the floor of the fireplace.

Next, Grieves said the workers stopped to remove the radiator and lower frame of the fireplace along with the glass doors. She said they drilled the hole in the bottom of the chimney for the gas pipe, but the bottom of the chimney bottom broke.

“The clerk told me not to worry because they were going to cement it,” said Grieves. “I refused to have it repaired this way because the floor was cracked in several areas.”

She said the workers had to remove the cement board. They bored through the bottom of the chimney again. While they were at it, she said the drill bit fell between the sub-floors. The Grieveses loaned them a new piece.

Grieves continued her watch, now from the basement. She said the workers cut a hole big enough to get their drill bit, but they never covered the hole.

Then she saw that the gas was connected to the boiler with no shut-off valve, but the workers said it was too late to finish for them to come back.

Then Grieves said she asked about the new damper but the workers said they didn’t know about it. They called the office that said the damper was not part of the original price.

Grieves sent them away with a check for $ 243 – half the price of the damper.

A week went by and Grieves said no one had called to schedule the job to be completed.

The update that was not fixed
Michele Grieves said she visited the store on Nov. 6 and asked owner John Huerta to do the job herself.

“He said he would come into the house,” said Grieves. “Finally, on November 24th, one of the original employees came to continue work.”

Grieves said the worker cut the new cement board to replace the one that was broken on the first day of installation, but while he was working the side wall broke in two places.

The worker said not to worry because he would cement it, Grieves said.

The worker next plugged in the gas unit, but something was wrong. He appropriately manipulated it by the jury, but then found that the logs were back in the store.

Before leaving, Grieves said the worker went to the roof to put the new damper on the chimney, but when he finished the damper didn’t close properly.

The worker left and returned two hours later with the logs, and after an hour the unit appeared to be working.

“I paid the job,” said Grieves. “I paid for the other half of the damper, which was $ 243, and the money for the fireplace, which was $ 600.”

Total before tax of $ 1,761.

Not so good
The next day was Thanksgiving.

The Grieves felt like stuffed turkeys, but not because they’d eaten too much.

When the house got cold, they found that the worker never turned the boiler on again.

They turned on the fireplace, but after 45 minutes the pilot light went out.

The next day, Grieves called on duty and the same young clerk was sent into the house. She said he found the problem was the detonator and he would order a new one.

“Again I asked (owner) John (Huerta) to please come over to my house and finish the job, and again he promised me he would,” she said. “Again he sends the same worker on December 6th.”

The igniter was replaced but some logs were broken during the repair and the fireplace still did not work. Now it’s a cracked gas pipe, said the worker.

Grieves was out of patience.

“At that point, I was very angry and called John (Huerta),” she said. “I was furious and told him to come and finish the job himself as he had promised.”

He promised to come next week but he never showed it, Grieves said.

It got worse. On December 8th, a friend noticed from the driveway that the damper was crooked. Tom Grieves and the friend went up on the roof and saw that the damper was never secured.

“Rainwater can flow into our attic in the collar,” said Michele Grieves. “The seams haven’t been caulked and rainwater now runs down the chimney when it rains.”

The couple got another estimate to see what it would take to fix the mess. Grieves said it would cost $ 2,839. When she shared this number in writing with A&J Fireplace, she said they had not responded.

After the holidays, with chimney problems and a fireplace fiasco that even Santa Claus might not be able to penetrate, the couple called Bamboozled.

Fulfill a promise
We called A&J Fireplace in March to see what the problem was.

Co-owner Ann Hughes said replacement parts for the Grieveses’ fireplace had been in her business for two months and they had been waiting for the Grieveses to call.

“(John Huerta) wanted to replace it,” said Hughes. “I’m not sure whatever happened, maybe a lack of communication.”

“(Michele Grieves) stood by my workers the whole time and they found something wrong with everything they did from the start,” said Hughes.

Bamboozled suggested that John Huerta visit the house, evaluate the job, and see what could or should be done.

And he did.

Huerta took a look, promised to order additional parts, and said he would return to get it right.

He did it three weeks later.

On a Friday in mid-April, Grieves said called Huerta and asked if he could come to do the job. Grieves agreed, saying she was impressed with Huerta and the worker – a new man Huerta brought along as a support worker.

Grieves gave Bamboozled all of the work piece by piece, and Huerta and his co-worker put it all on the couple’s to-do list.

“Our fireplace is beautiful and yes we are happy,” said Grieves.

From the gas pipe to the broken logs to the damper and more, Grieves said the fix was in.

The couple said the new damper held and was leak-free even during the mid-April showers.

Thank you to A&J Fireplace for getting things right for this client.

Have you been bamboozled? Contact Karin Price Mueller at [email protected]

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