Yesterday I was becoming concerned about the rate of firewood consumption secondary to the colder than usual weather we’ve been experiencing. Today, firewood consumption is not the problem. No battle plan lasts beyond the first round fired. No heating plan outlasts the first winter storm warning.
The wood stove was difficult to light and feed last week. It never seemed to reach a point where the wood was being burned efficiently. Feeding it resulted in excessive smoke being released via the door into the room. I’ve called the chimney sweeps we used last year but have not received a call back.
Friday, I noticed what appeared to be solidified creosote on the stovepipe. Tonight it was extremely hard to light a fire. The apparent creosote seems to have been joined by definitive creosote at multiple points on the stovepipe. Equally troubling, there seems to be intermittent smoke leaks at the pipe joints. While there was smoke issuing from the external end of the chimney, opening the feed door caused so much smoke to pour out of the stove that we had to open a door and rig an exhaust fan in order to clear the smoke out of the house. The stove is now officially “Hors de Combat,” literally meaning "outside the fight.” I hope the sweeps will find time for us and the weather will allow them to work. I don’t know if we have an obstruction, if the pipes, which seem to have shifted in alignment were somehow affected by the high winds, or if there is another reason for malfunction. The respite from hauling wood is less welcome than it was.
I do know that we are lucky to have escaped damage from a malfunctioning stove.
After several phone calls with messages left, we managed to talk to the sweeps. They agree that a blockage is the most likely cause. While we have only used the stove about two weeks so far this fall, we did use it heavily last winter and spring. So it is due for cleaning and maintenance. I think we’ll try to have it cleaned after the last use next spring, learning from experience rather than suffering the results of inexperience.
The snow and cold temperatures will delay any cleaning or repair. But we are in the queue and hope for a visit from the sweeps before year’s end. We’ll be happy to see them when they arrive. I’ve annoyed a neighbor who suggested to Gloria that we burn rock salt in the stove to remove the creosote. That procedure first requires a hot fire be burning – not something that I care to attempt after last night. It further runs the risk of igniting creosote and causing a chimney fire. I don’t care to run that risk. As much as I would prefer to have the stove in battery tonight, it is not and will not be. Maintaining an intact home is the preferable course of action and no valid reference for the procedure shows up on a Google search.
At one time, I gave some thought to leaving the clinical lab in order to become a sweep. There was a franchising company, “August West” that would have sold me basic tools and training to enter the field. Apparently, they still exist today... For various reasons I did not make the career switch.
The office is a colder place for now. I imagine I will get some reading done in preparation for next semester.
We have about 5-6 inches of snow on the ground today. The wind has been averaging about 5 MPH with gusts to 13 MPH today. Staying outside for any length of time is not recommended. Current temperature is 19°F with a predicted low of 13°F. Wind chill is currently 13°F. Fleece, wool, Gore-tex, down, and rabbit fur Mad Bomber caps make the trip to the mailbox, the time spent dragging the dog, and the time spent shoveling the decks and stairs more tolerable.
Dinner tonight will be leftover soup and a salad. Classes were cancelled today. Gloria has a final class at 1030 tomorrow. The weather may alter that.
Global warming is taking place without the knowledge, consent or approval of the GOP. They can pass that on to their precious grandchildren.