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Chimney Fire

2921 Views 20 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  BarneyHaight
Nothing says "good morning!" like waking up to the stove pipe glowing red and crackling. This was the worst we've ever had and shutting it down didn't help, just had to sit by with a fire extinguisher trying not to panic. It was cleaned 7 weeks ago, for crying out loud. So, time to swap stoves and install some new pipe because we have this problem, albeit in more minor form, every year. Anyway, thought I'd share. Now might be a good time for a chimney safety overhaul if you, like me, have been putting it off.
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Well, they build up with creosote from normal burning, which is why they have to be cleaned regularly. If you burn with temps too low, or early in the season when it doesn't burn 24/7 so has lots of temp fluctuations, more creosote builds up. I've never had a chimney fire start during the day; just in the morning when you open it back up to heat. The temp change, especially on cold days like today, seems to make it ignite more easily. So the more creosote in the chimney, the hotter and longer it will burn. My mom used to stuff newspaper up there and light it to burn it off. o_O Maybe I should do that every so often to keep it from getting too thick!

A little burning isn't bad, but it scares the crap out of me when it glows red because then I worry it's hot enough to ignite the wall behind it. I think the reason it wouldn't shut down is that it was too well lit when I caught it, having been cozied up in bed. :( Usually I hear it and shut it down right away so it fades out quickly.

I had some stove guys out last year and they think the pipe might not have been installed properly up in the ceiling so it doesn't draw right. The problem is that this stove is homemade (why I like it, my both now-dead Grandpas built it together, so it's sentimental) and would cost about $2k in parts and labor to be fitted with double wall pipe. I have a newer stove sitting that I was going to install because the pipe feeds out the top instead of back so it can be installed properly but I hate to give up my old stove.

Also, the newer stoves have air space above the burning box, which means you can't really cook on them because the top never gets hot. The flip side to this is that they burn more efficiently and don't build up creosote as much.

Makes me want to just fill up the oil tank and heat that way. No chimney fires then!
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That's a great idea! I've been planning an outdoor kitchen for a while now. Hmm...
Pine is awful. We don't have hardwoods here but burn tamarack and fir primarily. Hoping to have a log load delivered in the spring so we can start getting ahead. Nice that you've got so many years ahead!
Part of my problem is that I don't run it hot often enough. Mostly because we had a bad run with a stove that was defective and wouldn't shut down so chimney fires were BAD and now I'm scared of them. Just need to revamp the whole chimney system so it's double wall, then let the baby burn!

The hubster does the chimney cleaning. It's really inexpensive to buy a cleaning tool and a very simple process, if you don't mind heights.

You can buy double or even triple wall, so even in a mobile home, your chimney will be pretty safe even when it burns. We just have single wall though, hence the concern. So I don't want anyone reading this to be worried that wood stoves aren't safe, because they really are, especially if you invest in higher end pipe and pay attention to what you're doing. I've had wood heat most of my life and nothing beats the heat or cost effectiveness of wood. Plus, the peace of mind in knowing that the house will stay warm when the power is out is worth the rest of it.
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We always used to keep a door open in the kitchen where the stove is because it keeps things so hot. I don't now because of the kids, but the kitchen is not a place we spend much time in the winter!

Is that the cabin your brother lives in now?
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