I have done some stupid things in my life to save a few dollars but last weekend, I set a new low (or high). We recently moved into a new house which has a fireplace (our first house ever with a fireplace). We thought we should probably clean the chimney since that is what our friends told us we should do. I read a bunch of online articles about how to clean chimneys, etc. and decided that I could save the $150 or so it would cost us by doing it myself.

I should note that being “handy” is not one of my strengths but I am improving over time. I went to Home Depot and bought a brush and some rods to clean the chimney. I taped plastic around the fireplace and crawled underneath to being cleaning. I had goggles on and gloves and was remarkably well-prepared. It went smoothly and I soon had a layer of black grime on the bottom of the fireplace. However, I could not reach up too far into the chimney so realized I would have to go up on the roof. I was feeling pretty proud of myself at this point so was confident I could take care of things from the chimney side (Heck, I had just watched Mary Poppins and chimney sweeping did not look that hard…). This is where the stupid part comes in…

I climbed up the roof and noticed that the chimney sticks out above the roof about 8-9 feet and the roof here has a 45 degree angle with a two story drop to the ground below. I had the brilliant idea to bring our step ladder up and prop it against the chimney so I could reach the top to clean it. When I got up there iwth the ladder I realized that it could not sit flat on the roof since there was an inverted “V” shape there so it would have to be balanced on the “V” while I was on it. So I put the step ladder in place and climbed up. I soon realized I would have to be on the top step to reach into the chimney. So I climbed up and was balancing the step ladder on this “V” while holding onto the chimney with one hand and trying to work with the other. I had to take the chimney cover off first and while doing that dropped a screw which fell into a gutter somewhere… Oh well, you don’t need all those stupid screws anyway. I took the cover off and slowly, gingerly, set it on the roof while teetering in place on the step ladder.

I then started to push the brush down to clean it. Suddenly, the wind started to blow which made the balancing act on the step ladder while trying to clean the inside of the chimney a little more exciting. About this time, I had the realization that “what the hell am I doing…” I was teetering on a step ladder in the wind, holding onto the chimney with one hand, thirty feet from the ground to save a few dollars, and I was terrified… I finished up the cleaning, screwed the top back on (all except the one screw), and gingerly climbed down from the step ladder. I then climbed down from the roof and vowed to never to that again….

So what about you – any stupid things to save a few bucks?