I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Thursday, December 28, 2023

The New Wood Stove

Summer before last, our sons got together and bought us a new wood stove. It was supposed to be a surprise for their dad. Unfortunately, they didn't really understand what to get. They both knew what our old one looked like, but there were no others like it at the store. What they did have was the best and latest designs made by people who had never needed to rely on wood heat for a single day in their lives, nothing more than the occasional campfire, that is. 

Our old stove had seen some better days. It was starting to leak around the edges here and there and one leg could fall off, but it stayed there if you didn't bother it. The leaks, we calked with some stuff that was made for that, but that was starting to crack away. No biggy really. It worked. The shelf up inside was there to keep the heat from shooting directly up the pipe. It did its job, but it also would catch whatever fell down out of the pipe, and if it collected enough, it blocked off the flow. That shelf could be lifted out, but I didn't know that for most of its life. On hindsight, I probably should have left it out, but it wasn't in the way in any other way than to catch ash. After it broke, I couldn't get the rest of it out.

I was in on the secret because the boys knew they couldn't pull it off with both of us oblivious, not while one was out here and the other one was in town doing the shopping. Anyway, part of the conversation on what to buy involved how big the house was. What they ended up with was this little baby stove that looked so cute, but it was supposed to be able to heat up a house this size. It does, but it takes forever to get it there. 

That salesman must have seen my son coming from a mile off, and he sold him the smallest thing possible with all the fancy bells and whistles imaginable. He really took him for a ride and a half. This cute little stove is good enough for a weekend cabin that's about the size of a postage stamp. Relying on it for actual winter heat is a whole other issue, especially when the outside temperatures are hanging out at minus temperatures Fahrenheit. There has been more 0 or colder temps this winter so far than I can remember.

So what is the problem with this stove? To begin with, those fancy bells and whistles don't work. Well maybe they do a little, but not enough to make them worth the extra expense. There's like three teers of creosote reburners up inside. Now, don't get me wrong, creosote is some nasty stuff. It can eat your stove pipe from the inside out. The trouble is, the stovepipe gets eaten out anyway sooner or later. 

When we built this place, we used the heavy insulated pipe from probably about four feet from the floor to all the way up through the roof. The creosote ended up nearly closing it off and we had no way of chipping it out. All the things we bought that was supposed to dissolve that just didn't. 

We swapped those out for galvanized pipes a few years ago, and they lasted a year. We then swapped those out for steel pipes, but they didn't last much longer. Now, we have double-walled welded pipes and a new stove. The problem with all those reburner levels is that they take up space. Not only does the firewood need to be like four inches shorter, they can't be any bigger than my wrist or there's no room for more than like four or five pieces. This morning (and yesterday), it took four hours before the stove was producing enough heat to start bringing up the temperature in the house. Night before last, I didn't stuff the stove in the middle of the night, so it was completely cold. Last night I did, and I probably should have done it twice last night. This morning, the stove was still warm to the touch, but it still took four hours of burning before it got too warm to touch and thus started actually heating the house. Thanks to all that useless clutter up inside, we almost need to stuff the stove every hour or so. If it gets any colder, we'll need to sleep in shifts - might need to anyway.

Another thing that's wrong with this stove is the fact that it leaks worse than out old one. We almost need to pull the whole thing apart and put that spun glass cordage into every seam. Unless it's cold, and the stove is roaring, smoke leaks out of every seam, or it produces no heat at all. The worst part was the flu in the door can't be shut down all the way, which makes it impossible to run a little kindlin fire on those morning when it's just a bit nippy, but we don't want a fire all day long.