Saturday, December 16, 2006

Loose Ends

There comes a point in every blog where it's time to do a little housekeeping. Sweep up the loose threads, and tie up loose ends. When that fails, it's time to just pull something out of the air. :P

I'm sure that you all remember my little construction project. If you don't... go read up on it and you'll be up to speed. Since I built it at the end of March, I didn't have much occasion to use it before the weather warmed up. Therefore, it was hard to tell if it was going to do the job or be a colossal waste of time.

Here a few weeks ago, when the weather dipped to a balmy -6 at daybreak, I had occasion to give it a go. I can't remember what we were working on, but I packed the stove full of kindling and paper and set it afire. Unfortunately, it didn't work right. For some reason, the chimney wouldn't draw, and the fire would never get to the back of the stove. A problem that had never happened before. So I started playing with it.

I pushed the fire to the rear of the stove, hoping it would catch the newspaper on fire and things would work. It went out. I lit it again, this time in the back, but all it did was smolder and die. I was perplexed. About an hour later, I looked around and the whole shop was filled with smoke. Gee... great. As I was fixated on the fire, I hadn't noticed that all of the smoke had been boiling out of the door instead of the chimney and had filled the shop.

As cool as it was in the shop, it was still warmer than it was outside, but now I had to throw open all the doors and let the room clear. As I was watching the "warmer" air and smoke escape through the open doors, I decided to check and see if something had obstructed the chimney.

I grabbed the extension ladder and climbed up to the top of the chimney to take a look. Now... back when we first plumbed the stove in, we put a piece of screen over the top of the chimney to act as a spark arrestor. We've got too many dry burnable things, like haystacks, to risk not having one. I suspected that perhaps a bird had built a nest or something on the screen and was plugging the outlet. That turned out not to be the case. But the screen was fairly black, and smelled like creosote. Hmmm...

I climbed back down, lit the fire again, then climbed back up the ladder with a wire brush in tow. I whacked the screen with the wire brush and then raked it back and forth several times. As if by magic, there was a poof of smoke and then a rush of heat that made me decide to move my hand rather quickly. Case closed.

The screen we'd used was too fine and the smoke and smoldering fire had caused the screen to build up with creosote effectively sealing it off. I've since changed both the design and the size of the screen, opting for expanded metal instead.

And the stove? Well... it works rather well. It'll take the chill off of the building in about 3 hours and make it nice and comfortable after 5 or so. What that means is that I can fire it up when I leave in the morning, go feed my minions and by the time lunch is over, have a nice toasty building to do something in. It makes it rather nice, and I have availed myself of it's services several times now.


Today's Mystery Lyric:

Ain't found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with sting and sweat
seems every path leads me to nowhere


Anonymous bc said...

When I started to read this I thought for sure you had some residents in the chimney.

I thought it was a brilliant idea when you first made it. And its a very efficient way to heat such a large building.

12/17/2006 2:09 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

We heat our home only with our wood stove. First year, we burned a lot of poplar. Big mistake. Even though people told us, "Yes, it's a hardwood, but it doesn't burn right," we burned it anyway. It's on our land, it's free.

This time we had wood delivered uncut and in log form. Maple, cherry, etc. What a difference. My little home is always toasty. Hubby does the chimney every two weeks. Not I! =)

12/17/2006 6:59 AM  
Blogger LL said...

I thought I had critters too, thankfully no.

Yeah Beth, we're burning poplar too, along with some apple and cherry wood. Actually, we're cleaning up the place around here so I'm burning anything that will burn. Some definitely is better than others, but there is no help for the parsimonious.

12/17/2006 8:06 AM  
Blogger fermicat said...

Ah, there is nothing like the toasty heat from a wood stove! I had one in my basement in Massachusetts, and kept it going 'round the clock during the coldest days of winter. Once I had the fire just right, it would easily last all night. My neighbor would stop by during the day and add a few logs while I was at work.

I kept the chimney pipe pretty clean. I had to take the inside portion of it apart about once a month and scrape off the creosote. I got five cord of wood delivered each year and stacked it all up in the basement (lots of hard work there!) so I wouldn't have to trek out in the snow to get it. That stove kept the entire first floor of the house very warm and saved me from having to use the electric heat as much. When I was really cold, I'd go down there, open the door, pull up a chair in front of the flames and sit there until I was warm. It didn't take long!

The wood stoves are nice, but I am happy to be living in a place where you don't need one. It was in the 70s yesterday, and should be again today. Ho Ho Ho!

12/17/2006 10:27 AM  
Anonymous bc said...

I know Ive told you about my parents house before. Maybe you should run something like that too. They had their woodstove set up in the basement but ran it through the furnace and hot water system. The only time the furnace kicked on was in the middle of the night when the fire went down. But that didnt happen too often.

This year has been way too mild for me to even get into the holiday spirit. No snow, rain and 50F. I realy shouldnt complain though. I really dont want to drive in the snow across town to work.

12/17/2006 10:41 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Boy, this story sounds familiar. My mom only heats her house with a wood stove in the basement, and it has been smokin' up a storm. I told her not to be just burning pine, but a guy she works with had given her a bunch. Now the sucker's all clogged, and it's not burning right either. I was going to take a log chain up on the chimney and do a little redneck cleaning, but a friend of hers is supposed to come Wednesday night with a wire brush. Only problem? We're supposed to be getting a huge storm Wednesday night. Simply excellent.

12/18/2006 1:51 PM  
Blogger LL said...

My Aunt and Uncle told me that if I burn a pop can in there every once in a while, it will stop the creosote from building up in the chimney. For the life of me, I can't see how that could possibly work, but I'm either going to have to call Mythbusters or just go ahead and try it.

The only problem for me is finding the pop can... do you suppose a whiskey bottle would work instead? :P

12/19/2006 8:30 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Dang, all you people are so rustic. Actually, my father had put a wood stove in the basement of our old house after he had renovated it and turned it into a second TV type room and it was just too damn cold to sit down there in the wintertime. I hated going outside in the winter to get more logs.

12/21/2006 6:28 AM  

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