The most important way to make wood heat less harmful is choosing a high efficiency, EPA approved wood stove. The stove in our home is designed to reburn the smoke through a series of baffles on the stoves roof. This not only helps to reduce the output of smoke from the chimney and into the environment but also increases the BTUs that we get from each load of firewood.
Other important factors in reducing your impact are burning fully dry seasoned firewood, maintaining the seals on the stove and performing regular maintenance of your chimney including yearly inspections and cleaning.
A good reason to clean your chimney annually is for fire prevention and the peace of mind that it brings. Chimney fires burn hot and fast and can quickly move from your chimney to the structure of your home. They occur when creosote built up in the flue catches fire. Creosote is a naturally occuring buildup created when hot smoke cools and is highly flammable. This is what we want to remove from the chimney walls.
We awoke this morning to a rare but beautiful calm dry autumn day. Perfect for the dirty job of chimney cleaning. After the coffee was brewed, Ben began on the ground floor by removing the stove pipe and vaccuuming out the ash build up at the connection.
Then it was time to clean the pipes that run from our stove to the chimney. Here you can see the creosote built up inside of the pipe.
Ben used a wire brush and a long stick to loosen the deposits. Anywhere the pipe has a corner, T, or turn it's especially important to clean because these are places where the smoke tends to cool condense into creosote deposits.
The dark material in the tray is the creosote that Ben removed from the connection. You can see Echo performed his usual role as supervisor!
Once he had the pipes cleaned, Ben attached a large garbage bag to the bottom of the last section with duct tape. This bag would capture the soot that would come down the chimney as he ran the chimney cleaner from above.
Fortunately our 3 story home was built with a roof access and a nice flat section of roof at the top, so access to the chimney is easy. First thing to do from above was removing the chimney cap. This is simply a matter of unscrewing it and pulling it off the chimney flue.
Next, Ben got the chimney cleaner and ran it down into the flue. This handy tool is pretty cool. It's attached to 2 ropes and you lower it into the chimney and then pull on one rope to expand it. Once its open, those wavy looking pieces run up the insides of the chimney loosening the creosote deposits which fall into the garbage bag below.
Here it is in the closed position
Here it is in the open positon
Of course the cap had to be cleaned too and may as well sweep off the fir needles from the skylights while we were up here.
Thanks Ben! And yes, I helped a bit. I was the tool gofer and chimney checker :0) It was even a family affair with Echo checking on our progress from below.
Here's the view from the roof. Beautiful!
And looking down into my veggie garden
After clean up and reassembly our fireplace is ready for action for the cold days ahead. Now that it's been cleaned we can have the piece of mind that we are safe and have done our part to make our woodburning a little bit greener.