Winter Returns and Fireside Fiasco

Winter returned last night with a couple inches of snow and usually we take cold in stride with our Vermont Castings stove to keep us warm. But just before the cold arrived some strong winds blew in. Handyman had just recently given the stovepipe its spring time cleaning and secured some hardware cloth to the chimney opening to deter the annual nestmaking activities of the starlings around here. Can you guess where the story is going yet?

As a family we were gathered in the living room and having a discussion while the gust of wind that blew outside resulted in a sudden infilling of smoke. The room was filling with smoke! My husband ( aka Handyman here) jumped up… went to see if the roof would allow for climbing up to see what was the matter. Roof too slick from rain… running back into room and then proceeding to pull all the burning logs from stove. The rest of us stood helplessly and cluelessly around. But the smoke was getting to choking level, so we opened doors and windows. Although I had to briefly close the front door as the winds were blowing ash around.

Logs ended up out on the front yard, stove and fire were shut down, bits of ash were swept up, and place aired out. All ended well… except that we are bit chilly for the duration of the cold snap. We surmise that the gust of wind blew the hardware cloth into the chimney and clogged it. Waiting for inclement weather to pass to clear the pipe.

I love a wood stove, but you see it can have its negative side.

2 Replies to “Winter Returns and Fireside Fiasco”

  1. …and the topic of discussion prior to this was dealing with “unwanted fires” (and relating that to other unwanted/uninvited things). The previous day, I had conducted a hands-on fire extinguisher training session with our kids.

    I had just partially loaded the stove, so it wasn’t a full load. Also, it hadn’t been going long enough to really heat up. This enabled me to carry out the 4-5 small split logs (one at a time). If the stove had been going “full-blast”, it could have presented some major problems.

    Since we have a metal roof and it was wet, I couldn’t get up there to clear the blockage.

    Lesson learned: In my efforts to stop the starlings/chimney swifts (whatever they are) from building their nest, I will install hardware cloth/chicken wire over the chimney cap instead of putting it inside the cap. That way there will be no risk of the screening actually dropping down into the chimney and clogging it.

  2. So weird how that worked isn’t it?

    Thank God for the safety feature of not having a full blown fire to deal with. I must say that you jumped into action in a most impressive way!

    Yes… time to lighten up on the poor bird population (even though I hate the starlings too in this case!)

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