Okay, so here’s another periodic chore.

We scraped a LOT of creosote out of the stovepipes. The chimney was, as it had already proven, a fire waiting to happen.

Somebody sent me an Amazon link, and I have bookmarked it and will spend money there as soon as I get the money together. That’s the very next cabin-related purchase. Every two months, like clockwork, from now on.

My good neighbor D came over after lunch to help get the pipes down and cleaned. Being a more responsible type, he already owned the necessary tools.

Taped a garbage bag under the ceiling box, to catch what fell.

The biggest accumulation was up near the box, in the reducer. Reducers are a bad idea, it seems.

And all back together, and probably sometime tonight I’ll get up the nerve to actually fire it up. I’ll keep telling myself the inside the chimney is now clean as a whistle and there’s nothing flammable in there.

It won’t help. Good servant, terrible master.

A word about adrenalin: In the course of a long life, I’ve had lots of opportunity to take care of situations while I’m really scared. I can feel my heart pounding and I’m about six inches from freaking completely out, but I can prioritize what needs to be done and work down the checklist at warp speed. Afterward I can rarely think of a thing I should have done differently – except for avoiding the situation. But also afterward, I’m wrung out like a dishrag and just about useless for anything. This morning I took the boys to Gitmo, because I didn’t need them underfoot while I cleaned up and there was still time to go shit-shoveling. But when I got back to the Lair all I could do was sit in a chair and watch the walls move, and didn’t start feeling better until just before D called.

Guess it’s good it’s not the other way around. Hindsight is a bitch, especially when it involves hysteria. This place took me years to get to the point where it’s at, and this morning I almost lost it due to maintenance failure. That would have sucked.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to Okay, so here’s another periodic chore.

  1. Woody says:

    Joel, I’m not surprised that the worst accumulation was up near the top where the pipe is the coolest. If you can score a couple of pieces of insulated stove pipe for the top sections it will help prevent buildup. Also, burn your stove hot all the time to keep the creosote from condensing.

  2. Joel says:

    The upper, 6″, sections are insulated, if by insulated you mean double-wall. They were, as you say, heavily coated with gunk. By far the worst part was the reducer.

    Someday I want a stove with 6″ pipe all the way up, but nobody seems to be throwing them away.

  3. Carl-Bear says:

    This is usually done with perlite, but I’m told that vermiculite will work fine, too (sorry more money): fill the space betten the 6 and 8′ sections with good ‘ol vermiculite from the garden shop for insulation.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I see you are wearing entirely the wrong hat for the job, Joel.
    I too feel the pain of being increasingly follicle challenged and would hate to see you either burn the pasty pate or soil your daily garb so I bring another relevant link:


  5. Joel says:

    Nope, you got it wrong, Buck. That’s my neighbor D. He’s into the cowboy hat thing.

    Even has a big belt buckle with banjos on it. Scares hell out of the touristas.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Oh well, at least my failing eyes did not fail to see the spectacular grosse messer in it’s proper place.


  7. Anonymous says:

    I work in emergency services (EMS), but have had some training in fire. Here’s how our local fire services put out an actively burning chimney fire. Get a rag; wet it w/ soapy water; throw it in the fire box; close the stove door. The water converts to steam at 1000 time the water volume. The soap acts as a surfactant (makes the steam more ‘sticky’)the fire goes out almost immediately.

    No big hoses; fire engines; special fire extinguishers; etc — very simple.

    Hope this helps.

  8. Joel says:

    Anon 1:54, I read that yesterday after the fire. I’d never heard it before but if (god forbid) I ever have to do it again that’s what I’m gonna do.

    I think the only thing that saved my roof is that the stove can be closed so airtight that fire goes out right away. I could put out the fire in the firebox, but had no good way of putting out the fire in the chimney.

To the stake with the heretic!