“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dreary Day



It rained hard all last night. By about noon, the rain stopped but the clouds are still there. The temperature is dropping and the humidity is falling fast.

By tomorrow, it's supposed to be cold and clear . I am planning a jaunt into town.  Just to have lunch and go by the grocery store, nothing important. I've been up here since Sunday and I'm ready for a change. I should at least get the mail out of the mailbox.

One nice thing about being retired is that I don't have to go off the mountain unless I want to.




I've been burning some firewood.  I fired up the wood burning stove in the lower level last night, just to get the damp feel out of that floor more than anything else.  It does make things feel drier, and much warmer.


Two years ago, just about this time, I woke up in the middle of the night with a chimney fire in the wood burning stove. Despite all my prior planning, none of the gadgets I had on hand to deal with that contingency worked. I had fire extinguishers, smoke bombs, the works.

Had to call the fire department. They had some kind of special chemical they threw down the chimney in a bag that put the fire out. One of them told me the best thing to do was to keep some small bags of chipped ice in the freezer, and throw that in the stove if the chimney caught fire. Then damp it down completely.

I had swept the chimney myself but hadn't done a good enough job, obviously. I am far more meticulous when I do that task these days.



It's really quiet up here now that the rain has stopped.  I can hear the creek roaring but that's about it. One thing I am not short on is tranquility.

22 comments:

  1. Someone once told me that pouring handfuls of salt into a stove with a chimney fire would do the trick. I never had a chance to test that theory, however.

    I envy your tranquility. So far today I have heard the neighbor who likes to slam doors go in and out several times, the city did its monthly testing of the warning siren and one train has gone by. Wish I could have figured out a way to stay in my quiet place years ago. The only sounds I heard then were the loons calling on the lake nearby and a very large, determined woodpecker working on holes in a tree at the end of the drive. Sigh. :)

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    1. I'm in the place you were when you made your decision to leave your quiet spot. There are always detrimental aspects to any lifestyle. As you get older, things that mattered not a groat when you were young begin to loom large in your life.

      I am content here and I don't want to leave. Whenever I get a bit anxious about keeping this place up, I remember the old man who still plowed with a mule when I first moved here in 1986. He just kept on keeping on until one day they found him out in the field, dead behind his plow while the mule waited patiently. He lived a good long life, where he wanted to be, and he enjoyed every day. He didn't spend one minute in a nursing home.

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  2. Been gray and drizzly here for the last 24 hours too. Chimney fires happen due to creosote buildup. This happens when the wood stove is kept damped down and never heats up enough to burn the combustible gases given off by slow soft burning wood. So the smoke cools down and creosote and other junk will condense on to the chimney walls. If it builds up enough you have a highly volatile fuel right there. If it catches then the best thing to do is toss a mess off baking soda in the fire, to cut off the oxygen. I tend to let my wood-stoves rip roar full-tilt-boogey with the door open a crack so there is a good hard draft and never have any creosote build up and have yet to have a chimney fire. Hardly ever see any smoke coming out the chimney cause it burns hot enough to burn up all the combustible gases. Kind of the same principle a rocket stove operates on.

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    1. I think my troubles stemmed from having used seasoned pine in the wood stove when I first moved here. I know better now, and only use hardwood. But it's very hard to scrub off the creosote buildup when you use that kind of wood. Also, I had to scrub up the chimney from the lower level through three distinct levels, probably about 33 feet from the wood stove to the chimney cap. With flexible sections of the wire brush that screw together, the further up the chimney the less real friction I could generate on the sides of the chimney pipe.

      I burn my stove hot like you do. But I do damp it down at night when I go to bed. Keeps me from having to get up every few hours to replenish the wood in it.

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  3. Damp cold cuts right through you. A woodstove does a pretty good job of drying the air.

    I had a chimney fire one year and I'm a retired firefighter. It was the year we stayed north three days too many. The chimney needed cleaning but I'd hoped to put it off until we got from FL in the spring. Nope. A loose piece of birch bark got sucked up from the basement woodstove and set the top of the chimney on fire.

    The local FD where I live is a volunteer outfit and it would be really embarrassing to call them. Hit the fire with my biggest extinguisher and it didn't quite go out. Called the local guys anyway. It's more embarrassing to burn the house down. They needed some instruction on how to ladder my dome roof, but once that was sorted out they did a good job.

    I could have done the job myself, but better to not do it alone. Shut the woodstoves down and burned heating oil for a few days until we left. I did a very good cleaning when we got back in the spring.

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    1. Fire is one of my biggest concerns here. The chimney fire I had was a really bad one, with parts of the chimney glowing red hot. None of my gadgets effected it at all, including the much vaunted smoke bomb that I was assured at the hearth and chimney store was infoulable.

      The fire department guys had a bag of chemicals they dropped down the chimney that stopped the fire cold. Even better, they had some kind of device they used to find any hot spots still there, which they then flushed with an extinguisher to make sure the fire didn't erupt again.

      I'm with you. Some things you can afford to dilly dally around with, but a fire is not one of them. After that, I stopped parking my truck in the middle of the trail where it comes out into the meadow. The firemen couldn't get around it and had to hump all their gear the rest of the way up to the house.

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  4. Chimney fires are horrible. My Father was zealous about keeping a clean chimney. He was also careful about corners in chimney's. I see a lot of places with the chimney or stovepipe coming out of the side of the house then up along the wall. This seems like they are tempting fate. This new place has a straight well placed chimney and we have cleaned the chimney ready to have the first fire. It still has not been cold enough to justify a fire.

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    1. I hire a professional now to come out and do both the wood stove chimney and the fireplace chimney. I am not very thrilled about having strangers come up here, but clearly I can't do an adequate job and I'm not anxious to go through that experience again.

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    2. One alternative to paying a chimney guy to come by twice a year is a "Swift Chimney Cleaner". Basically a permanently installed chimney brush and you can run it up and down as often as you want with a crank handle at the bottom to keep the thing clean. My parents had one installed on each of their two chimneys over 20 yrs ago and they seem to work well. Paid for itself in less one year.
      http://www.swiftchimneycleaner.com/
      https://youtu.be/xWOefIhER3E

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    3. I'll take a look at that. Sounds interesting. Have to see what it costs though. The chimney sweep does both of my chimneys for a hundred bucks, but that could and probably will go up. Everything else does.

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  5. Winter came early this year it seems. This morning we were in the minus degrees here, and more snow on it's way for this weekend.

    I sure miss the wood burning stove I had growing up. I didn't mind cleaning it. But I don't ever recall my father cleaning out the pipe. Probably because we used to burn a lot of aspen, I was told that it burns cleaner. As you know I am looking to build a new place, but these days when you ask a builder about installing a wood burning stove they give you the funny look. The newer homes just don't come with that option anymore and that is really sad.
    --Troy

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    1. They still install them up here. We have a big fireplace and hearth store in the neighboring county and they will hook you up with a contractor who specializes in putting in fireplaces and stoves.

      The chimney fire I had started in the chimney, near the top of the house. I could see the heat slowly but surely traveling down the pipe as the heat increased.

      When we first moved here I used season pine for firewood because I had a lot of it down on the place and I didn't know any better. Big mistake. I only burn hardwood now.

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  6. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Im still trying to get rid of the last of this head cold I had. When the air drys out and the Sun comes out maybe I can hack the rest of it out.

    I have to admit I was looking at pictures of Russian women on youtube. Im not getting any idea's. It would be nice if I had more income, time and gregarious personality.
    There are some really, really attractive women in Russia. I don't know how Stalin borrowed Hitler's master race genome and started artificially inseminated women in the Soviet Union after WW2, but by God, Ivan did something right.
    Next up are Israel women. Especially Israel active duty and veteran women. I know if a home invasion happened my Israel born and bred wife would have no problem fighting off attackers. I wonder if I could get an upgrade wife that's an expert at Krav Manga and comes equipped with her own Uzi?

    I really appreciate women that are more independent and something much more than a 'trophy' My past girlfriends have included an engineer with a PH.D in Mettallurgy, a lawyer, a jet engine mechanic, and an airline stewardess.

    Maybe in time I will bump into one or maybe not. Time will tell.



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    1. Sorry you are still feeling ill. It does take a while to shake off a bad cold , especially if it's in the chest.

      If it's meant to be, it will be. If not, you seem to enjoy life pretty well as you are.

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  7. I tend to enjoy the rain when it comes and enjoy it when it ends. Dreary here, too.

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    1. Gorges, I like the rain. Our problem here is that it seems to come in waves in the winter, where it just settles over us and goes on for days. That makes it tough when you really have to get out and do the basic chores every day. But I look at it like the snow. There are detrimental aspects to rain but in general it's very peaceful. And it's good not to have to worry about the well.

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  8. Chimney fires can lead to very bad outcomes. My fire department uses what we call "chimney bombs" It's nothing more than a small baggie filled with dry chemical extinguisher agent that we drop down the chimney. The heat melts the baggie and the chemical disperses. We will sometimes throw one into the firebox and let the heat carry the dry chem up. You should be able to get it anywhere that fills fire extinguishers. That works most of the time. An absolute last resort is to spray water down the chimney. The thermal shock will make the chimney unusable.
    I have a Brunco wood furnace in the basement that is ducted to the whole house. It was put in by the original owner. It works well and saves me from having to use the electric baseboard heat. It's hard to regulate the house not getting too hot when the outside temps are in the 50's or higher, though. Sometimes I wish i had a woodstove or fireplace just for the comfort of seeing a toasty fire, but the furnace is much more efficient.

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    1. I didn't know that about the chimney being damaged by water. That's something that is good to know.

      I suspect that what you mentioned your department had is what they used to put my fire out.

      Given the high price of propane I am using the wood stove again for heat although after the fire I seriously considered not using it anymore. I'm careful with it.

      I'll check on getting some bags of that chemical. Maybe they have it at the hearth and stove place up in the next county.

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    2. When I was a firefighter it wasn't uncommon to go to 6 or more chimney fires a day. Mostly we used water. Yes, you can break a chimney by cooling it too quickly. We had a special low volume gooseneck nozzle and shot short tiny bursts of water. The idea was to let the steam do most of the work. We also had chimney weights and other tools for the job.

      Water is often blamed for cracking chimneys, but the sad fact is that chimney fires are hot, around 1400 degrees and most chimneys start to fail at 1200 degrees.

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    3. What about stone? My wood burning stove has a metal chimney, but my fire place is all thick Tennessee fieldstone.

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  9. Would throwing baking soda inside your wood stove extinguish a chimney fire ? I understand that throwing this on a fire produces CO2, which extinguishes flames. No idea if this would be carried up into flue.

    Sounds pretty scary to me - glad your fire department was on the ball.

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    1. I don't know the answer to that, but several people have suggested it. I think the next time my wife and I are looking for some place to go, we will ride over to the hearth and stove store and see if they don't sell it. The only reason I can think of that they wouldn't is that they make their money off installing stoves and fireplaces during renovations and that might not be a good advertisement.

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