Chimney fire, now what?

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dogrunner

New Member
Dec 6, 2018
1
Upper Michigan
I have a Fireview 205 – absolutely love it, it came with the cabin when we bought it, and this is now our third winter here. Fairly certain the chimney had never been cleaned before we moved in because there was a LOT of build up in there the first time I cleaned it out. I make sure to clean and inspect at the start and end of the season. Prior to moving up here I had no experience with burning wood, but I've tried to do a lot of research and have spent a fair amount of time reading threads here in the past to make sure I'm (hopefully) doing things right.

Last night we had a “small” chimney fire – concentrated just above the 90 degree elbow that comes out of the back of the stove. I was able to put it out by cutting off the airflow through the stove and a quick extinguisher shot into the elbow itself by lifting the top lid (I know, I know, opening the lid gave it a nice burst of air to feed off of, but I wasn’t sure what else to do).

Obviously did not rekindle a fire in the stove and luckily the cabin is insulated enough that the temperature indoors stayed tolerable through the night. Took the elbow off today for inspection of it and the stove pipe, there was some of the flaky creosote piled up in the elbow as if it had fallen down from further up and collected there, and the inside of the stove pipe seems to have a nice glaze of the shiny type creosote.

For peace of mind, I am going to replace the elbow and section of stove pipe directly above it that is single walled. There doesn’t appear to be any warping or visible damage, but the pipe did glow hot during the fire and I’m not sure about what sort of chemical reaction there might be from the extinguisher being discharged in there.

I cleaned out the upper part of the stove pipe that is double walled (goes through the second story of the cabin) with the Soot Eater. There appears to be a thin layer of that shiny glaze creosote there as well though. Am I going to have to replace that portion as well? Or would it be possible to clean it up with a more aggressive cleaning tool and/or would something like Cre-Away help loosen it up for removal?

What else do I need to know/do?

We are burning what I thought to be very nice, dry wood. Last season we unfortunately had to burn some greener wood out of necessity. Aside from the clunking two pieces of wood together to gauge ‘dryness’ by sound and weight, how do you judge this?

It may be worth mentioning that the CAT on this stove has one foot in the grave – we have had one on order from Woodstock Soapstone Company for awhile now, but they were out of stock when I first inquired about a replacement, and the most recent email from them has no estimated time of when they think they will get more in. We have continued to use the stove though as it is our only source of heat here. Not sure if that is a contributing factor at all.

Thanks in advance for your advice and input!
 

vwmike

Feeling the Heat
Oct 7, 2013
323
Chilliwack, BC, Can.
Geez so far this year it’s the cat stoves having all the chimney fires!
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,266
Southern IN
Yeah, I bet you got more creo because of the failing cat. You might just go ahead and get a ceramic cat for it, since the steel cats from them are always back-ordered. Someone mentioned a while back that Woodstock suggested that they could get a ceramic cat. I asked the poster if Woodstock mentioned who to get the ceramic from but I don't think they ever replied..I'll check. Firecatcombustors.com is Applied Ceramics. I don't know if anyone else makes them? You could contact Woodstock and ask..
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Personally, I'd want to pull each section of the chimney apart and get a good look at the sections for damage.
 

Ludlow

Minister of Fire
Jun 4, 2018
1,437
PA
How long is the connector? You dont know if there was an actual fire in the class A or not.
 

blacktail

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2011
1,419
Western WA
Aside from the clunking two pieces of wood together to gauge ‘dryness’ by sound and weight, how do you judge this?
A moisture meter. They're cheap and available from Amazon and places like Lowe's and Home Depot. Split a piece of wood open to expose the middle and test the newly exposed face. Shoot for readings of under 20%.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,928
07462
A moisture meter. They're cheap and available from Amazon and places like Lowe's and Home Depot. Split a piece of wood open to expose the middle and test the newly exposed face. Shoot for readings of under 20%.
That's not really the whole answer here, yes wood with a moisture content above 20% is more likely to contribute to lower fire box temps which equals lower stack temps and smoke condensation, but I'm burning 15% oak and I just cleaned a cruddy chimney cap yesterday, I'm also having stove issues that I think are coming from a bad door seal and maybe a dying cat.
Not to hijack the thread but my weekend intentions are to boil / clean the cat with the hot water / vinegar solution, install a new door gasket. To the OP, check your seals, and perhaps look up how to boil your cat to get some more life out of it.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,958
Woolwich nj
I would just hop on line and grag a couple of ceramic cats.. one for now and as a backup. I know im going to get chastised for saying this.. i swap out my cat every 2 seasons as the performance of the cat goes down after time. My cat is engaged i would say 75 to 80% of the time. My cat is not expensive so i keep 2 on hand. I would check the pipe also. Replace anything that doesn't look right
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,472
Northern NH
Since you are a new wood burner you may not be familiar with chimney flares. http://www.chimfex.us/ They look like a road flare but if there is chimney fire you throw it in the firebox. Definitely no substitute for a good installation and maintenance but cheap insurance. Some fire departments use them as it the sure beats a fog nozzle or a standard fire extinguisher and can be applied quickly rather than waiting for the fire trucks to show up.