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Kimler Adventure Pages: Journal Entries
It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.
NewsBrief: [Clogged Pipes] Lately, our wood-burning stove is difficult to light and won't allow a roaring fire. Yesterday, we discovered why.
Hutton House - When arteries are clogged with build-up, surgery is required. Doctors go in and clean out the blockages, so that blood can flow unimpeded.
What works for the human circulatory system also works for the home heating system.
Filed under: "a somewhat embarrassing tale", Scott spent the better part of yesterday, disassembling our wood burning stove exhaust ducts. Apparently, they were clogged with creosote. Not just a little - a LOT of creosote (think "massive chimney fire").
OKAY ... you'd think as a volunteer firefighter, Scott would know different.
Well, he does. In fact, he cleaned the main vertical chimney this fall, sweeping the ceramic liner with a square, wire chimney brush. He wasn't too worried about the metal ducting, figuring (incorrectly) that it got hot enough that any creosote would be burned off.
We're still pretty new to the whole wood-burning stove thing. We've been in our house for two winter seasons now. We've noticed, this year, that it's gotten more difficult to start fires and get them roaring. (Which was precipitated by Rachel wanting to keep very slow burning fires going all day - not a good idea, apparently).
The other night, after a particularly smoky start to a rather cool fire, Scott thought, "I wonder if the exhaust pipe could be the problem?"
He slapped it with his hand and immediately, the fire went out and smoke began to pour out of the fire box. We opened all the windows and doors, turned on the fans and stared in amazement at the fire, which was now just a mass of white smoke.
We let the box cool and the next day, Scott pulled apart to the exhaust vents. What he saw was amazing ... the pipe was nearly clogged with creosote and ash build up. It was far from the "clean" pipe he'd imagined.
We have no idea how long it took to accumulate this amount of creosote, but we cleaned it all out, wire brushed the insides of the pipes, reconnected them and we're able to - once again - have roaring fires.
We've got a magnetic thermometer that's mounted to the exhaust stack. It shows where the range for "normal operation" is, too low and you're into the "creosote" range and too high, you're "too hot". We try to keep it in the normal range and it will be interesting to see how much build up we get next year.
I guess taking apart and cleaning the exhaust pipes will become part of the annual maintenance, just like sweeping the chimney.
As an aside, we had a bit of creosote staining on the red brick. After trying all manner of cleaner and searching the Internet for a solution, Scott tried oven cleaner. It worked pretty well, though several applications with a stiff brush, were required.