Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, my ass.

Several days after my new neighbors moved in I noticed smoke wafting INSIDE of my house.
As I investigated I noticed that my neighbors had huge amounts of dark gray wood smoke billowing out of their chimney.
Their chimney is about 15 feet from my house and attic vent.
Evidently when the prevailing wind blows easterly the smoke from their chimney blows directly into my attic vent and the smoke then settles in the walls of my house.

This is not so good of a thing for a woman who has only half of a left lung and the other lung is severely compromised with a hereditary form of emphysema.

A week or two, just after these new neighbor moved in , I kindly went over to their house and introduced myself and informed them of my lung disease and asked them if they would curtail their use of the fire place, especially on Spare the Air nights and during our mild winter days.

The woman said that they would’ never even think’ of burning wood in the fireplace during the day but at nights they like to cozy up to a wood fire and enjoy a glass of wine.
She said she would ask her new landlord if he would clean the fireplace .
Errr, Umm Lady ! , I don’t think you are getting it . .. _ _
“ I have only one fully functioning lung, A clean fireplace spewing carbon monoxide is not a considerate thing to do.”
But please, do go ahead and have that glass of wine while you pollute the neighborhood air with toxic carbon monoxide, Voc and particulate matter. “ .. please do !

I mentioned that cleaning the fireplace would really have no bearing on the unhealthful pollution that would still spew from the fire place but she really didn’t seem to be too concerned about pollution control within our neighborhood.

On Christmas eve I was awoken by smoke wafting down through my walls and into the cracked opening of my bedroom window.
My neighbors fireplace was pouring thick dark gray smoke into my attic / roof vents and the smoke was settling down around the base of my house and in the houses walls.
I tossed and turned for an hour or so then at about 1 am went into the garage , erected a ladder, and set a old fan in motion to blow the smoke out of the house.

The smoke in my walls subsided but the smoke that accumulated around the base of my house could still be smelled.
And when you can smell smoke you are breathing in smoke.

The next day , a warm and balmy 58 -60 degree and the fireplace was still bellowing dark grey smoke across the roof and grounds of my house I went over to my neighbors house and again asked them to refrain from using their fire place on Spare the Air nights and especially during the day light hours.
They did not show any signs of understanding and their son dismissed me by saying “ have a merry christmas’.

Being sleep and oxygen deprived for the last couple of days I yelled back,” A very fucking merry christmas my ass. “

Now that’s the holiday spirit !
As I write this I have just filled out an application for in house oxygen tanks.
Thanks Santa, Just what I wanted.
I love having that fucking hose stuck up my nose and dragging that lovely oxygen tank around where ever I go.

Merry fucking christmas indeed.


Anonymous said...

They probably invested a lot in that home with a major drawcard of having the fireplace to enjoy their quieter moments together. I imagine they do feel an element of guilt each time they use it now. Please take the time to look at both sides of this story.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Dear anonymous,
They are renting this house, which is fully outfitted with a forced air heating system.

I bet they will feel real guilty now after seeing the paramedics and the Novato Fire department at my house last night.
But probably not enough to guilt their conscience into stop polluting the neighborhood with toxic carbon monoxide.

Garden Wise Guy said...

You go girl - I'm sorry for the trouble and health problems your brainless neighbors are creating and cringe at Anonymous' "see both sides bullshit.

I can't imagine anyone who walks upright and doesn't drag their knuckles on the ground not understanding your plight and putting their own "romantic" desires aside.

If it were me, I'd be playing Santa on their roof, but instead of presents, there'd by some post-consumer Alpo treats going down their chimney. Beats the hell out of that old Halloween burning bag delivery system.

I hope you prevail.

Anonymous said...

it seems like the correct solution to this situation isn't to blame the neighbours for using their fireplace, but to fix the problem where your house is sucking in their smoke. right? after all, your other neighbours might like to bbq outside, and your other neighbours might have a gasoline-powered lawn mower. and so on. but the real solution would seem to be either a) fix up your home so that the air that enters it is cleaned, or b) if a city neighbourhood with close-living conditions isn't compatible with your health, find someplace further out of the city to live. i -really- am sorry about the trouble you've gone through, i'm not trying to be an a*&hole. but i can't stand to see blame laid on your neighbours when they weren't doing anything wrong. there may not be any "blame" to lay, in fact. it sounds just like a bad situation for you, which you need to fix, not the rest of your neighbourhood.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

You know, you are correct Phoenician,
I do need to fix the problem.
So today I rigged up a back pack blower, you know, the kind that some towns ban because of the high level of noise.
Thank goodness my town hasn't banned these wonderful blower machines.
The blower is set on full blast. blowing the smoke back into their house.
As soon as their fire place starts burning huge amounts of blacken carbon monoxide and blowing particulate matter into my house , the back pack blower will be blowing all night long , blowing the toxic smoke back into their house .

Thanks for prompting me to take some action !

Too bad their bedroom is on that side of the house.
I'll want to keep an eye on the blower so I'm also going to hook up two 500 watt mercury vapor security flood lights just to make sure the smoke is blowing in the right direction.
I'm looking for a deal on some older mercury vapor lights, the ones with the old fashion ballast, , you know, the ones that make that wonderful buzzing sound all night long. - ...but the blower should drown out that sound. ,, ya think ?

Thank goodness my sleeping quarters are on the opposite side of the house, but it really doesn't matter with the lovely hum of the night time oxygen machine anyways.

Christopher C. NC said...

This is terrible. You are not getting much sympathy and understanding from the world wide web and more importantly the wood burning neighbors.

Maybe you could write the new renting neighbors a more graphic letter detailing emphysema and the difficulty of breathing air that lacks oxygen and how it is a lot like water boarding. Follow that up with a nice letter from a lawyers office if needed.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hi Christopher,
I'm not looking for sympathy as much as I am trying to educate the ignorant about the dire environmental and health risks of spewing wood burning smoke into the air, especially when that smoke travels directly into surrounding homes .

My ignorant neighbors are now just plain inconsiderate arrogant morons.

They have received plenty of education and information about what their wood smoke is doing yet they continue to burn almost 24 /7 now.

When the fire department came to inspect the smoke inside my house they went over to speak with the neighbors to try to get them to understand the depth of the problem.
They continued to burn.
Then when the paramedic came they also made a point.
Then a day later the Bay Area Air Quality Management agency visited their house .... and guess what ? - They burned their information packet.

So that is the mentality I am dealing with.

The permit department in my town is closed until next week, at which time I am pulling a permit for an industrial blower to be installed along with a set of (2 ) 500 watt mercury vapor flood lights that will be positioned so that I can monitor the smoke to turn on the blower, which 'unfortunately' will be positioned directly adjacent ( 12 feet ) to their bedroom.
I also have a letter and a call into their landlord whom is a general contractor who I have a good working professional relationship with.
I'm going to ask him to put an extension flue on the chimney and a swivel smoke diverter , so when the wind blows the smoke won't flow into my roof vents .
I'll also tell him I will financially chip in to have a natural gas log set installed in their fireplace in worse case scenario.

I can't afford to move, nor do I think that is a very practical option due to these folks are renters and may be some what transient.
By the way, they somehow managed to light their last house on fire.
Loved finding out that bit of information!

chuck b. said...

I have no interest in having a fireplace. One more thing to clean.

That's terrible (and weird) you have smoke coming in to your house. Happily noone around me has one either.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled on your interesting blog. I also dislike fire places. They are high maintenance and inefficient heat sources. They are very popular in the country...imagine moving to the bush to breathe the fresh forest air only to inhale fireplace smoke from all your rustic neighbours.

Anonymous said...

I'm on your side. This is a health hazard/nuisance in my opinion. I too suffered from smoke infiltrating my house and got a sears envirosense air cleaner that registered very unhealthy dust and odors. I suggest geeting a letter from a doctor and a lawyer and a witness such as the fire dept official who tried to help. Then contact the appropriate local and state officials and since this oftentimes does not work, take the neighbor to court. If you cannot afford the cost, take him to small claims court and plead the case yourself.

If you aford it, an IQ Air Co. air cleaner might help. It helped me remove all infiltrating smoke remaining after I caulked sills and blocked a few windows. More smoke comes in the side exposed to the smoke. See www.IQAir.com. $900. Health pro plus model. Can try it and return if it does not work. The Am. Lung Association might write a letter to present to authorities. By law you neighbor must refrain from any kind of activity that causes a health problem when an alternative exists. The gas fireplace is a good alternative and must be used. Offering to pay is a good idea. My lawyer said that a court case would cost $5,000 to $10,000 and take time. Other laws that can be checked might be dangerous heating equipment laws and local air emissions laws and nuisance laws and laws against noxious odors. Scientifically, the fire is probably air starved and not getting enough oxygen to burn properly. Tight houses choke fires according to woodheat.org. Contact the state DEP and DHS and state doctor. If your neighbors are renters they probably do not have money for a court case. A lawyers letter might scare them. They will care about a $10,000 dollar court expense. My heart goes out for you and I believe a judges would too. Try blocking the attic vents. They are not a neccesity. Upstairs rooms could have less smoke. My cape had less smoke upstairs. This is a life threatening emergency situation and I got a reference to an Am Lung Assn doctor who wrote that the smoke was a threat to life, health, safety and welfare for my asthmatic daughter. When my neighbor started burning with a boiler a neighbor had a heart attack and my asthmatic daughter's peak flow went down until she had an asthma attack. You may use this letter if it helps you with the authorities. I swear everything I am saying is true as if in court. One fireplace, on ave creates 30 mcg/c.m. of pm2.5 in calm winds and the ambient air usually has 30 mcg of pm2.5 in most locations. The total is 60 mcg and if they are burning 24 hours as you say, an estimate of the pm2.5 would be above the 35 mcg/c.m. standard for pm2.5. I am an engineering graduate and I checked these figures with the state DEP. They may be different in your location but a call to the state DEP will likely result in an estimate of similar amounts. Engineers do estimates all the time and this might prove useful. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Come join us at www.burningissues.org and sign up to the forum.

Anonymous said...

I am from www.burningissues.org and I would love to know the exact type of blower you purchased. I am looking to find one that I can also use to blow the smoke back to my neighbors. I can't take the smoke anymore.

Could you please post here and on burningisues?

Thanks!!! I am so inspired to do this too!!!!