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Monday, April 10, 2006

There's no place like Home.

After the recent storms (tornado?) that hit the Near Northside, we found ourselves missing part of our roof and missing our chimney cap. Though the roof will take some financial acrobatics to replace, we thought the chimney cap would be relatively simple to find.

When we got home from work the day after the storm, we measured the chimney. It is 42" by 18", a typical size for houses in this part of town. Because it was after 6pm, our neighborhood hardware store was closed. We headed on down to Home Depot to quickly make our rather urgent purchase.

We walked and walked, and finally found the chimney cap section. They sold only one size of chimney caps: 13" by 18". Huh?!? Even if we were to somehow attach three of those together, they STILL wouldn't be big enough to cover our chimney. I shouted at the boxes, "Who has a thirteen inch wide chimney?!?" We found a store worker and asked if they had any other chimney caps, and he said no.

Yyyyeah. Not surprising, for a store that sells a cornucopia of different kinds of drywall, but only one kind of plaster (which is sold in paper bags so flimsy that they have holes in 'em before you even get 'em in the cart). Not surprising, for a store that did not have the rather common type of asphalt we needed to patch our very common flat roof, but that nonetheless has a selection of things like texture-in-a-can. Not surprising, for the home of the $9.99 really ugly metallic brass ahistoric "carriage light."

So, on my next day off I did what I should have done in the first place and stopped by the delectably anachronistic Marx Hardware, located on 14th Street just a couple of blocks from our house. They're pretty reliable, and if they don't have something, Steve Marx can tell you where to get it. He can usually tell you where to get it on the Near Northside, and if he can't tell you that he will at least be able to point you to an independent business somewhere within the city limits. After we chatted for a moment about neighborhood news, Steve told me that Marx doesn't have the kind of chimney cap we need, but they are manufactured in the neighborhood by Hy-C.

Although our new chimney cap is on the pricey side because of some of the specific details of our chimney, we are still pretty happy about the purchase. We like to keep our money in our neighborhood whenever possible. Hy-C is located in a neat complex toward the southern end of our neighborhood, and the fact that it proudly posts its company history in its office makes us extra happy.

Schedule and money constraints often push us to shop at Home Depot, rather than Marx or another local spot. It can be a difficult choice to make. But sometimes there isn't any choice to make, thanks to Home Depot's paltry selection of goods for historic buildings.

...maybe I'm just being too cranky, though. Maybe I should just use a can of spray-on wall texture to try and protect my flue from the rain! Oh, so practical!

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