The old stove minus the stovepipe, the old chimney intake above

We are so very lucky.  Tuesday night, we  had what is known as a “flue fire”.  It was contained in the chimney. Today I found out we don’t have a brick chimney.  We have a poured concrete chimney.  With terra cotta clay inserted .  Not that this set up is foolproof, but it kept the fire in the chimney contained.  It likely would have been the last time that was true.  Upon inspection, the chimney is so worn, aged, cracked and broken that we are opting to abandon it.  Now we will have a straight stovepipe up through the ceiling and roof.

Through the cut out in the ceiling through the roof, flanked by lodgepole pine timbers

No more 90 degree angles to cause more problems.  Much better draft.  The house (and the stove we use) is 106 years old.  I hope no one has to wake up to the words from a neighbor at one am….”there are big flames coming out of your chimney”.  Makes me start shaking again to think about it.  After the neighbor reported this to me, I called 911.  We live very rural.  We have a good volunteer fire department. I however knew, as I stood hosing the roof down, that if it had breeched the chimney, our house would be toast, literally.  Stupid thoughts, like “do I keep hosing this down, or should I grab things out of the house and where do I put them?  What about the CATS??”  OMG.  I have NEVER felt as helpless as Tuesday night.  My son ran to mom’s for our extension ladder – which by the way I now know – don’t try to put out a flue fire by hose.  Which left me alone, hosing the roof – praying for the fire in the flue to go out.  In the silence, the darkness, in the midst of my anguished panic, I heard a small noise.  I turned, and there at my gate, was a firefighter, in his full turnout gear.  I was relieved, and really confused.  There was no firetruck.  There was no CAR.  I thought for a minute I had totally lost it and imagined him.  I called to him “should I keep doing this?  I don’t know what else to do!!”   He didn’t answer me.  Then I realized he was indeed of this world, he was listening to his radio. Turns out that of the two houses across the street, both with new neighbors, this fellow is the fire captain.  OMG.  Seriously?  About 20 minutes after I called for help, the old firetruck rolled up.  Then a small pickup with more volunteers.  In that time before they arrived, the captain looked around, inside and told me he thought it would be ok.  Once the truck got there, they brought an extension ladder, and put it up to the side of our very steep, icy and snow covered roof.  Then they hoisted up another ladder, this one with a couple of big grabber hooks at the end of it.  They pushed it to the peak and hooked it on.  Then the captain crawled up and looked into the chimney.  “Still burning a bit, we will wait a while”…….and they did.  They waited, and checked the temps of the walls and chimney inside the house, and in the attic.  Normal. No smoke where it shouldn’t be.  They packed up and left me with the warning “don’t use that until it gets looked at”.  Oh.  Really ? Geez.  He said that they have to tell the people that.  I can imagine so.  Like I said, don’t try this at home.  I didn’t sleep for a long time, then startled awake twice.  Both times knowing how very close we had come to complete change.  This house is 106 years old.  The roof it make of lodgepole pine timbers, with the saw marks where the limbs were removed.  I know now, that no matter what one thinks, if you think you are prepared, think again.  I went into shutdown mode, which is not normal for me.  Today I began purging the house.  I want to see little in here besides furniture – just the necessities.  After inspecting the situation, the heating contractor is now here to install the new metal flue/chimney.   Interesting to watch 🙂

New metal stovepipe 🙂

 

The last glimmer of daylight through the roof - before the pipe went in

Now I know that when using a woodstove, have the system checked and the chimney cleaned every six months.  Period. DO IT.  It had been 14 months since ours had been swept.  In retrospect, cleaning it would have prevented a flue fire, but the chimney was already in dire condition. After I post this, I am going to lay and light the first fire for the new stovepipes. Yay!

 

finished !

I appreciate having our home,  more than I can express.  Thankfully we didn’t have a tragic loss of property and mementos…….but I am planning ahead now, “just in case”.  I won’t be caught flatfooted again.

Enjoy your evening, ours will be warm and safe !

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