Sounds of stuff falling inside chimney

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Bill in the U.P.

Burning Hunk
Dec 6, 2016
103
Michigan
This year I cleaned my stove pipe and chimney from the top down. I used a SootEater Rotary cleaner. The class A part of my set-up is only a few feet straight through the cathedral ceiling. My stove pipe is 8" double wall pipe and approximately 20 ft. from the stove to the ceiling. At the ceiling I have an offset of two 45 degree elbows in the black pipe. We have been burning since late October. My wood is mostly maple that was split and stacked early in the spring last year so only dried for the summer. For the last few weeks we occasionally hear what sounds like something granular falling down inside the chimney. It only lasts a few seconds. If I lightly rap on the stove pipe with my knuckles I hear stuff falling as well. This is our 4th year with this set up and this has not happened before. I am very concerned. We are having totally strange warm weather right now and my roof is bare so I am thinking the prudent thing is to do another cleaning. I also think I am going do a brush cleaning from the bottom as that is what I have done in years past. If this were your set up would you just continue to burn with confidence or do another cleaning? I have lost a little sleep wondering if I am burning in an unsafe manner.
 
I would brush more for peace of mind. If you have a soot eater, why get on the roof? Just clean from the bottom. Do you have a moisture meter? Good chance that wood split last spring is not dry enough.
Agreed, cleaning from in the house makes more sense. Just getting a look up top might shed some light on the situation too. Yes I have a moisture meter but have not checked the wood. No doubt my wood isn't as dry as desired. Especially running a catalytic stove. But I'm stuck with it for this year. I included the "wet wood" information in my post in case someone had experience with something similar and maybe traced it to "wet" wood.
 
I had this problem too, and I realized that I was closing the air too much and too soon, my chimney needs a higher temperature than those generally suggested here, because it is very high and not insulated
 
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I had this problem too, and I realized that I was closing the air too much and too soon, my chimney needs a higher temperature than those generally suggested here, because it is very high and not insulated
Hmmmm. Ok. Thank you for that. I tend to damper mine down pretty quick after the combuster is in the active range. I reached up into the space above the firebox and found a lot of creosote chunks about the size of chain saw chips. I will try feeding the SootEater up through the damper door and cleaning that way tonight or tomorrow morning. It might be my new "go to" method for cleaning if it seems to work well.
 
Well, looks like tomorrow will be an interesting day. I was working the SootEater up and down from inside the stove. Somehow, the head got caught on something up at the 45 degree offset. The rod one up from the drill snapped off!!! There is about a foot of the broken rod hanging down in the stove. No matter what I tried, twisting, pushing up, pulling down, it just would not dislodge from whatever it is caught on. So, the plan for tomorrow is to drag two ladders into the house and climb up and disassemble the pipe at the first 45 elbow. The darn thing is, right up till it got caught it was going pretty well. Lol.
 
Well, looks like tomorrow will be an interesting day. I was working the SootEater up and down from inside the stove. Somehow, the head got caught on something up at the 45 degree offset. The rod one up from the drill snapped off!!! There is about a foot of the broken rod hanging down in the stove. No matter what I tried, twisting, pushing up, pulling down, it just would not dislodge from whatever it is caught on. So, the plan for tomorrow is to drag two ladders into the house and climb up and disassemble the pipe at the first 45 elbow. The darn thing is, right up till it got caught it was going pretty well. Lol.
Awww, what a bummer. I guess this won't end up being your go to procedure in the future???
 
Hey, at least it isn't 20 below. It could be any other winter here but this one is crazy warm.

The only time I ever had tinkling inside the stove pipe was with single wall pipe. Most of the creosote accumulation happens in the stove pipe. With 20' of double wall that will be true for you as well. Keeping flue temperatures higher will help.

If you know you won't have enough seasoned hardwood for the winter, you can cut some popple in the spring. If it is cut split and stacked in the spring it will be ready for the winter. In the spring you can knock the bark off with the back side of the maul after it is split. It does not burn long but it will be dry and a couple of splits of popple can help your sugar maple dry out in the stove before you turn the stove down.
 
Hey, at least it isn't 20 below. It could be any other winter here but this one is crazy warm.

The only time I ever had tinkling inside the stove pipe was with single wall pipe. Most of the creosote accumulation happens in the stove pipe. With 20' of double wall that will be true for you as well. Keeping flue temperatures higher will help.

If you know you won't have enough seasoned hardwood for the winter, you can cut some popple in the spring. If it is cut split and stacked in the spring it will be ready for the winter. In the spring you can knock the bark off with the back side of the maul after it is split. It does not burn long but it will be dry and a couple of splits of popple can help your sugar maple dry out in the stove before you turn the stove down.
Thanks for the info. Popple is plentiful in these parts.
 
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Well, we are back up and running. After trying all morning to dislodge the SootEater I gave up and called the rental place to see if they had scaffolding available. They did. At my age I figured it's way safer to work from scaffolding than ladders. My plan was to take apart the top of the stove pipe and free up the SootEater head. As I was heading out the door to hook up the trailer I thought "I'm gonna give it one more try." By putting a counter clockwise twist in the rods (by hand) and working the rod up and down violently, it came loose. When I got all the rods disconnected and checked the head it looked perfectly fine. No signs of gouges or missing whips or anything. I went out to put the truck away and what do I see? The rain cap is gone off the top of my chimney. OMG! I managed to run the SootEater up through both 45's and up to the top of the Class A enough to tangle the SootEater in the rain cap and somehow knock the darn thing off. At first we looked around outside and couldn't see the cap so we put a new one on. So lucky to have this mild weather and a nearly snow free roof. We did more searching and found the cap in some brush. It was mangled up! So, duh, yeah I ran the SootEater all the way to the chimney cap and the whips got twisted around one of the brackets. : ) I hope someone benefits from my blunder.
 
Good time to learn the lesson at least with the weather. I'd you have less than ideal wood purchasing some sawdust bricks could be an easy solution to get through this season. Mix in 1-2 bricks with your mediocre wood and things will burn a lot better. They sell them all over and aren't too expensive. I'd personally rather spend a few bucks than worry about my chimney.
 
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I discovered a little while ago that my sooteater are flexible rods, I have two 45 curves, and maybe I might be able to overcome them too, last time I removed the pipes above the stove, I poured a lot of soot on the floor, a disaster!
 
One time I screwed up and ran the soot eater all the way up to the rain cap, kept working it and spinning it and the head somehow made it out between the top of the cap and the chimney pipe. Once shoved up further I could not pull it back. I had to take the head off at the roof level then shove it back down.

Now I have the "last rod" marked so I put it on last and know that when it is inserted so far into the stove the head should be touching the bottom of the rain cap... and I don't shove it in any farther than that.

I am glad you got it figured out. Sometimes these things can be so frustrating you end up with your rain cap in the brush.
 
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Now I have the "last rod" marked so I put it on last and know that when it is inserted so far into the stove the head should be touching the bottom of the rain cap... and I don't shove it in any farther than that.
That ^^

I have the same. Sharpie mark on the last rod ensuring I don't mess with the cap. (I do clean the cap from the inside with the rod, but don't push against the "ceiling" of the cap.)
 
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I overcome this problem by paying my sweep to do it lol. He's a bit of an old timer I like supporting him. When he retires I'll probably just do it myself.
 
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I discovered a little while ago that my sooteater are flexible rods, I have two 45 curves, and maybe I might be able to overcome them too, last time I removed the pipes above the stove, I poured a lot of soot on the floor, a disaster!
Right up until I tangled the SootEater with my cap it actually was going well. i have a Blaze King and just bent the rod through the opening where the bypass is and things went quite well. I will definitely clean my stove pipe and chimney this way next time. Of course being way more careful to keep track of how far up I am working by keeping track of the number of rods I have hooked up.
 
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One time I screwed up and ran the soot eater all the way up to the rain cap, kept working it and spinning it and the head somehow made it out between the top of the cap and the chimney pipe. Once shoved up further I could not pull it back. I had to take the head off at the roof level then shove it back down.

Now I have the "last rod" marked so I put it on last and know that when it is inserted so far into the stove the head should be touching the bottom of the rain cap... and I don't shove it in any farther than that.

I am glad you got it figured out. Sometimes these things can be so frustrating you end up with your rain cap in the brush.
Thanks, I appreciate it. Marking the last rod is a very good idea. It's good to know someone else has experienced the same learning curve.
 
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That ^^

I have the same. Sharpie mark on the last rod ensuring I don't mess with the cap. (I do clean the cap from the inside with the rod, but don't push against the "ceiling" of the cap.)
Awesome!