I had my fireplace looked at and cleaned by a local chimney sweep outfit today. I have to say that they did not want to clean it, largely because they didn't want me to waste my money. Alas! There will be no cheery fires at my house this winter as the chimney is not in good shape nad prolly is not worth the money needed to fix it. I just liked the thought of the damned thing being clean. :P
Apparently at some time in the past the chimney was damaged enough to get a rebuild from the roofline up. A poorly done rebuild. The chimney guy said that he's not 100% sure he can put in the required liner tile and seal it enough to get the whole thing up to code and safe because of bad materials used in the fix. Bleh. The other thing is that it has no smoke chamber, something common to the fireplaces built in my neighborhood. He says it's prolly because most folks burned coal in this neighborhood. Oh well. Candles will look pretty in there.
His suggestion was to either put in a gas log or a wood burning insert, complete with stainless steel liner. Gas I'm not excited about, but the insert is gorgeous. It's also *cough* a $4000.00 job. Candles will look pretty in there. :)