Sparks are still coming through my spark screen?

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busterboy

New Member
Oct 30, 2019
3
CA
I live in CA and we are having another year of massive wildfires. I had my chimney swept yesterday, last sweep was 12/2017. I have a spark screen installed that has the diamond shaped vent holes along with a chimney cap. The wood I used was a tree cut down from my neighbors property which I think is a type of pine, left to dry for about a year and a half.
Last night I started a fire and went outside after a few minutes to check the flow coming through the chimney even though I was told it was clean down to the metal. There were random sparks floating out, not like a fountain of sparks just a few floating by at a time. When I noticed this around February I shut the fireplace down for the season and didn't use it until last night after the cleaning, I was using wood from the same property I was using last night but dried for about 8 months at that time. I was told this is normal for extremely dry soft woods and I see other houses emitting sparks, but it made me nervous so I doused the fire instead of taking any chances (this state is a tinderbox and I live in the desert).

Can I wrap the existing sleeve with a finer steel mesh to stop the sparks from flying? I know I'll have to clean the entire system more often if I do this to keep the airflow going and keep the creosote/tar from building up.

I used a fairly large log atop a few tightly rolled pieces of cardboard and twigs, should I be using smaller logs?

This is our only source of heat at the time other than electric (which is not affordable to heat even the living room), but I also don't want to burn my house or my community down so any advice is greatly welcome. Thanks in advance!
 

ColdNorCal

Feeling the Heat
Mar 6, 2018
331
Newcastle, Ca.
Diamond shape spark screen for California should be 5/8". Other states may allow larger size.

Also, limit the amount of cardboard for kindling. Many say dont use it at all. I dont use it. When burning branches and brush in burn piles outside and have thrown in some pieces of cardboard, the cardboard creates large ashes that are airborn. Dont know of that happens in a wood stove. Just prefer not to do it.

I live in Nor Cal and am also uncertain and timid about starting up the wood stove.

https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/when-is-it-ok-to-burn-again-in-nor-cal.177534/
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,948
South Jersey
Cardboard has a lot of glue in it. Don't burn it in a stove.

In stead you can start the fire using a torch to get the twigs fired up.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,620
South Puget Sound, WA
Don't use the cardboard, that is probably the source of the floating sparks. If you need a starter, get something like SuperCedars. Yes a finer screen can be put on around the coarse screen. It will need more frequent cleaning. I wouldn't go smaller than 3/8" mesh.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,785
Iowa
I'd bet your seeing floating cardboard for sure. "Super Cedars" are the answer in my book. As recommended. Noooo more kindling games of any kind required. Ever! Give this product a look. Well worth the cost as you can start a load with a quarter of a puck easily. Nothing floats away.
Good luck with the current wildfire predicament. Looks miserable.
 

busterboy

New Member
Oct 30, 2019
3
CA
Thank you all for your replies! I'm off to the hardware store o see what they have available locally but I've already ordered a box of Super Cedar. Tonight we are having a hard freeze, looking at high teens to low 20's (last week was still in the 90's) so I'll try again with proper fire starters after dark when I'll be able to see if there are any sparks.
Again, I really appreciate the advice!
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,092
SW Missoura
Yea i would b scared to death to light a stove in california. Ive never noticed sparks coming from my flue but sure enough if i lived there that would b the time it would happen. Im not telling you to light up now or not....ultimately that is your decision. But if it were me i would wait till the weather pattern changes. It would be terrible to be at fault for a fire there and cause loss of life and if it were proven it was you it would probably ruin you financially would be my guess. Thats just my view nuthing personal.
 

busterboy

New Member
Oct 30, 2019
3
CA
Yea i would b scared to death to light a stove in california. Ive never noticed sparks coming from my flue but sure enough if i lived there that would b the time it would happen. Im not telling you to light up now or not....ultimately that is your decision. But if it were me i would wait till the weather pattern changes. It would be terrible to be at fault for a fire there and cause loss of life and if it were proven it was you it would probably ruin you financially would be my guess. Thats just my view nuthing personal.

I am absolutely on the same page with you which is why I doused it last night after 5 minutes. I'm prepared to use the electric heaters if needed (already vacuumed them out, they are never set anywhere but open center of the room and not run when I'm sleeping) assuming we don't lose power again. Unlike most, I don't take chances with this if I'm the slightest bit uncomfortable. If worse comes to worse I'll pull a mattress into the living room and my disabled dogs can sleep int he bed with me to keep them warm. Thanks!
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,092
SW Missoura
am absolutely on the same page with you which is why I doused it last night after 5 minutes. I'm prepared to use the electric heaters if needed (already vacuumed them out, they are never set anywhere but open center of the room and not run when I'm sleeping) assuming we don't lose power again. Unlike most, I don't take chances with this if I'm the slightest bit uncomfortable. If worse comes to worse I'll pull a mattress into the living room and my disabled dogs can sleep int he bed with me to keep them warm. Thanks!

Good deal. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Hopefully things will calm down over there soon for ya. Be safe.