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Midwesterners - Check Your Flues!!!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Rob From Wisconsin, Jan 16, 2006.

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  1. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    East-Central Wisconsin
    Yeserday, I loaded our woodstove, ignited it, opened-up the air flow
    control, and walked away awaiting a good fire/draft before I shut the air
    control down. About 5 mins. later, my son approached me asking if it was
    normal for the stove pipe to "glow". Crap!! the horizontal section of dbl. wall
    stove pipe just before our thimble was glowing (inside pipe)!!
    I quickly turned the air control totally off, and fortunately the fire responded
    immediately & the pipe cooled also.
    The point I would like to make is that here in the Midwest, it has been damp &
    not so cold for the better part of a month. Chimeny's aren't drafting as well
    & even stored wood is beginning to re-absorb water - a formula for incomplete
    combustion, and dirtier flues. In the five (5) plus years we have been burning wood,
    we have not seen a flue get dirty to the point of being a "hazard" in such a short time
    (I inspect my flue at the beginning of the heating season, and then mid-way through
    in late January). Even in my mid inspection, it never got to the point of being hazardous. But, this goes to show you, if conditions are "right", a flue can deteriorate
    very quickly, in a month or less.....
    So check your flues!!!! (please)

    Rob

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A friend of mine decided to clean his 7-inch ss chimney liner this past weekend before the cold set back in. Turns out he had nearly complete blockage at the tip of the chimney (where it extends from inside the house to the outside). He said it took about an hour to poke a decent-size hole in the bridge with the end of a cleaning rod, but we're wondering how (short of climbing up on the roof or lighting it off) to get it relatively clean.

    Any ideas? The blockage is about 36 feet up the chimney. Do you think one of those creosote cleaning logs would loosen it up? Would a nice hot fire get enough heat up there to loosen things up? Or is he looking at a trip up to the roof?

    Sorry Rob, didn't mean to hijack your thread.
  3. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    That's OK Eric.
    I have a similar problem (not quite as bad) at the top of my chimney.
    I think it may be partially because it is a "Banded" (not grill/grated) chimney cap.
    I'm pondering retrofitting it to a "grill/grate" cap.....
    Back to your original question, I believe Fleet Farm carries a spray you may be
    able to use that you can spray directly unto the problem spot, and then acts as a
    "catalyst" & breaks it down from the heat of your next fire.
    I don't remember who carries it, but I'll check into it....

    Rob
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks Rob. We don't have Fleet Farms (or Farm & Fleets, for that matter) out here in NY, but there are similar stores.

    BTW, I grew up in Wisconsin, most recently lived in Coloma. Graduated from UW Madison way back in the day.

    I'm not a big fan of chimney caps, but I had to buy one when I got the add-on cat to keep it from getting wet. The first thing I did was take out the spark arrestor screen, AKA, the "creosote catcher."
  5. Michael6268

    Michael6268 Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Grafton NH/Upper Valley
    I dont get what you are saying happened?? Are you saying you had a chimney fire? Are you saying your outside of you double wall corroded away and the inner pipe was exposed and you saw it glowing? Also I think everyone should be checking their pipes more so this year as the whole country had been warm and wet.
  6. pgmr

    pgmr Feeling the Heat

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    Central Indiana
    Eric, could you give a little more detail about your add-on cat? I've been trying to find info about such an animal, but most stuff is 20+ years old.

    Thanks
  7. Scraper

    Scraper New Member

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    Not to offend anyone with my first post, but I have been burning 2 stoves for almost 10 years now and have never seen such build-up. Might I ask what stoves you all are using and how you're burning it? I am running 2 Quads and can go 2 seasons burning close to 8 cords per season between the 2 stoves before cleaning. I don't do this for obvious reasons. Are your stoves belching smoke? Are you using unseasoned wood?
  8. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    I'm not exactly sure if I had a full-fledge chimney fire. I opened-up the thimble & also inspected
    the chimney, and there wasn't all that much soot/creosote buildup. Perhaps it had been localized
    in one area of the horizontal run. Also, the only reason I was able to see that the inner pipe
    was glowing is because there are ventilation slots at the end of my D.W. stovepipe
    (manufactured that way).

    Rob
  9. PAfluedoctor

    PAfluedoctor New Member

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    Nov 22, 2005
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    Scraper, I too burn a Quad and burn 3 cords or so each winter under the same conditions as mentioned in the original post. The only build up I get is a light powdery ash.

    To answer the original post question: If the glaze is that bad then it is possible that the flue would need cleaned by a sweep. A good one will carry the rotary cleaning tools to strip the glaze off the inside of the chimney. I'd save my money from the sweeping log and get it done right. You could try a product called CreAway, just follow the instructions on the bottle, and it may make some of the glaze removeable with a brush however it may not work if the build up is thick enough to plug a seven inch hole. I know everyone wants to save money and do it themselves but sometimes you need to call in help.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The friend with the blocked chimney has an indoor boiler. I guess he's been burning it a little cooler than usual in this relatively warm weather.

    pgmr: The only add-on cat I could find was at Woodmen's Associates in New Hampshire. The 8-inch model that I have goes for about $220, plus you need to buy a $25 internal probe thermometer. I have mine hooked up to an indoor boiler and it seems to work great. Your wood has to be dry. The only problem I've had is the occasional coating of fly ash which can jam the thing up. That's probably because my boiler has a blower. I installed a manual damper ahead of the cat which seems to be keeping the dust at bay. I'm hoping to get two heating seasons out of the cat element. It looks like it can be replaced for somewhat less than buying a whole new unit.

    You might PM Rob (the guy who started this thread). He's got one too but can't make it work. There are a couple of other threads here discussing add-on cat issues.
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