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We were having a leakage issue in our basement that was due to moisture in our chimney. The frigid Chicago weather has caused quite a havoc this winter. Lindemann was able to diagnose the problem and ... - Steve M. (Chicago, IL)
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“Tis the Season,” I thought as I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the umteenth time. If only they had thought to come out with “The Day After” as a sequel, I could come up with the scenes that would once again elevate Clark Griswold to a household name.
The first scene takes off after the end of first movie with Clark nailing plywood over the damaged windows and the family retiring for the night.
The next morning as the kids are opening presents, Clark decides to light the fireplace but forgets to open up the fireplace damper. Smoke rolls out into the room chasing everyone outside where the snow is dropping at a rapid pace. It’s not like Clark can easily open the windows now that they are nailed shut. After much work and numerous fans he finally gets the place aired out.
Not deterred, he puts on a heavy glove, grabs the damper control and repeatedly shoves and pushes until the “stuck” damper opens. Out pours a family of sooty squirrels heading in all directions.
Of course, “Snotts” the dog is chasing the squirrels which are leaving soot blotches everywhere. Uncle Eddy, who disappeared when the squirrels popped out of the fireplace, shows up with his shotgun. He starts to blast at the squirrels which escape around him and out the front door. Well, almost all of them.
Clark gets the fire started, everyone comes back in and surrounds the fireplace as the fire cheerily sparks. They raise a toast of eggnog when they hear a “whoosh”. Cousin Eddy had dumped a handful of wrapping paper into the fireplace catching Clark’s backside on fire. Running to the bathroom he sits on the toilet scooping water onto his pants. As he’s doing this he pauses to listen to a new sound.
He sprints for the living room as the fireplace is roaring. As the family stands in awe watching sparks fly everywhere, part of a burning log rolls into the room. Clark grabs it and runs outside only to see the chimney spewing sparks and shooting fire like a torch. Clark runs around the corner to the garden hose and throws the charred wood absent mindedly. It lands on the neighbor’s (Todd and Margo’s) wood pile which is stacked next to their garage with their twin Mercedes parked inside.
It ignites the wood pile which in turn starts Todd and Margo’s garage on fire. Clark’s chimney is on fire (he blew off having it cleaned). As the snow continues to thickly fall, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” blasts as fire trucks – one after another – pull up and firefighters scatter everywhere.
As the last scene fades away, the only place to stay is Cousin Eddie’s RV or the Roach Motel which is the only place in town with vacancies.
Just as this could be a sequel to one of the most popular Christmas movies, it could also happen to you. Always open the fireplace damper first. If it doesn’t budge, there may be something on it. Call your chimney sweep to fix it. Get a chimney cap with a spark arrestor/animal screen. Don’t shoot at sooty squirrels in the house. Never burn wrapping paper or boxes. They can flame quickly and large embers can travel up the flue, igniting creosote residue and causing a chimney fire. Get your chimney checked and cleaned (if needed) every year. Have a fireplace spark screen in front of your fireplace. Make sure logs are secure in the grate or that your screen is anchored (like with andirons) so logs can’t roll out. Never discard ashes, coals or pieces of burning logs outside in an area with/near/on combustibles.
Posted by Karen Stickels Lamansky, Author of Design Ideas for Fireplaces, published by Creative Homeowner Press.
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