The personal site of Grahame Murray

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A Dirty Job [Journal]
I’m a big fan of the show Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel. Every week I get to see Mike Rowe engaging in insanely dirty, greasy, messy activities that most of us never stop to think about. You can watch Mike get filthy doing jobs such as cleaning grease traps, processing human food waste, mining coal, emptying septic tanks, making charcoal, etc. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. So I’ve had my own dirty job over the past few days. I’ve been removing an old brick chimney/flue from inside the walls of my house. My house was built in the 1930 and, I’m almost certain, was initially heated by coal. To vent the coal smoke there is an old chimney that runs up the wall of the original kitchen (which has its own flue for what I presume was a wood stove). I believe this project qualifies as the dirtiest (corporally speaking) thing I’ve ever encountered or attempted. You cannot believe how dirty an 80 year old chimney is! So when I got home on Friday I put on some grubby clothes and went crawling around in the upstairs crawl space where the current top of chimney is (it had its top knocked off when the previous owners put an addition on the house). As it turns out, when they knocked the top three feet or so off, they dropped the bricks and mortar down the remaining chimney. _Sonuva._ So I spent several hours Friday and many more on Saturday getting the stacks cleared of debris. This also required going to the basement and working from the bottom up. But eventually I got it and began to remove the inside of the masonry. By the end of Saturday I had working down to the bottom of the old kitchen flue (about 4-5 feet down from the ceiling). But getting clean, holy crap!!! I couldn’t believe how dirty I was. I wish I had taken a picture because I really did look like a coal miner. The dust and soot is the real killer. Friday I didn’t use a dust mask but Saturday I did. Not that it mattered, I was coughing and blowing black crap out both nights. _Nice image, huh?_ So last night I picked up a poly coveral, a Tyvek coverall, a head sock, and a P100 respirator. With it all on I looked a bit ridiculous, but the respirator helped tremendously. Unfortunately the poly coveralls still let the dust through and I emerged with my clothes and skin black. Next time I’ll be using the Tyvek. If they don’t work I don’t know what to do. Perhaps a space suit or hazmat suit, or maybe body condom?! “Why do all this in the first place,” you ask? That is truly an excellent question. _Ahem_. Well, I really want to install central air upstairs. I’ve had nearly three window-unit summers and wall-heater winters and I’m fed up with the noise and micro-climates within a room. This idea been on my radar for all of that time but now is the moment for action. I’ve had a few installers out to do estimates and most have recommended installing the air-handler in the basement and running ducts up to the second floor. The ducts would require losing some significant closet space right next to the chimney, so if I can remove the chimney then I can save the closet as it is. I’m beginning to rethink the cost-benefit of the work I’m putting into this, but I know it will feel really great if I can pull it off. It had better anyway. I will try to keep updates posted here and the situation progresses (and the chimney regresses).

4 Responses to “A Dirty Job”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Dude that is great. Dirty Jobs is one of two shows I try to watch regularly (along with 24–that show is like crack)…definitely one of my favs. Good luck.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Oh man, in that first picture your cat is totally evil looking!

  3. stacey Says:

    Hi!

    The anti-spam code I pulled from your site anti-spam roulette machine here gave me “twat”.. so how could I not add a comment now?! It was like, calling my name. Right?!

    Anywho.. you are totally hhhhhot! thanks for the proof that you really did get dirty! (ahem, in a non-adult-content-sort-of-way, of course!)

  4. BWill Says:

    I am going through the same thing, actually came across this journal while researching how to do mine.