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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Wood Stove Blues

Back in the day...

Here is one of wood stoves in our house on the farm. Dad built that brick wall and laid my brick floor. We added the little half wall to help collect heat and to protect the entertainment center from too much heat. In the top left corner of the photo you can see the window with the vertical blinds. We paid a lot for those blinds and I was very careful not to let them get too hot and warp. After we moved, the new tenants let them melt!

Here is another thing I don't miss about living on the farm. I love a fire but the mess and hard work totally negates the pleasure.

In our house on the farm, we had 2 wood stoves and a heat pump. Most of the time I had to work with Dad and Ronnie to get up wood. They would cut and I would gather and stack it. That was hard enough work but it doesn't stop there!

Here are other things I hated about it:

1) That stack of wood had to be near a door, which, in our case it had to be the front door (the back door was on a deck high off the ground.) Ugly sight. Ours was about 12' from the front door.

2) Having a wood pile near the house draws spiders, snakes and bugs (I've seen all 3 of them and had all 3 trying to get in the front door). I pulled the tarp back one day and there was a big snake curled up. We had to keep a sticky board right by the front door to catch the little snakes and spiders from coming in. And we caught some. Plus, I get allergic reactions to things like fire ants, spider bites, etc. I don't need to be in contact with them if possible.

3) Ash removal was always a joy! Every week I had to clean out the ashes, trying to be careful so as not to make too much of a mess. As you know ash is so lightweight that the least puff or movement sends it in the air to cover everything with a fine dust.

4) The dust. No matter how careful you are, you are still bringing dirty wood into the house, tossing it on the fire and emptying ash. So everything gets dusty.

5) I had the job of keeping the fire going. Bummer! But Stan was too messy to trust with ash removal and he worked all day so I kept the fire going.

5) At the end of the season I had to thoroughly clean out the ashes, scrub the glass doors (which become so soot covered that you can't see the fire. You can clean the glass every day but that was a drag so, in the end, it usually got done a few times a season. Then I would line the firebox with newspaper to keep the wind from coming down the pipe and blowing dust into the room. At the beginning of the season Stan would have to climb up on the roof and clean out the stovepipe.

6) Uneven heat. The den would get too hot and other rooms would get too cold. Especially if the heat pump thermostat was in the same room as the fireplace or woodstove. I was always having to open doors and windows or wrap up in blankets. In our current house, the fireplace is in the den with the thermostat. So when we turn on the gas logs it heats the den up and the thermostat registers the heat so the heat pump doesn't turn on. This makes the rest of the house cold...too cold for the dogs. So we don't get to use our gas logs much either. Why did they put the thermostat in the den with the fireplace?

7) The older you get, the less able you are to cut and haul wood, bring in armloads, climb on the roof to clean out the stovepipe, etc. Once you start paying for loads of wood and for chimney sweeps, you aren't saving too much money. I became physically unable to do these chores any more. It amazes me how active I used to be and can't be any more.

8) Ecological reasons. For emergency backup heat I believe in gas and not in woodstoves or wood fireplaces. It's easier, more convenient, no mess or fuss, more dependable. There is responsible wood cutting (thinning out of trees, cutting down dead wood, cutting up fallen branches, etc) but too many people, especially if you are buying loads of wood, aren't picky about where they get the wood so it's not very ecological. Plus wood smoke pollutes the air.

9) Allergies to the dust and ash and smoke.

10) Dry heat. It dries out wood (furniture, panelling, etc) as well as skin, sinuses, hair, etc. We kept a pot of water on top to help replenish moisture in the air but it was a drop in the bucket. It might be good for drying out a basement but I don't like my house being that dry.

11) The occasional direction of wind sometimes sent air DOWN the stovepipe, chuffing it into the room instead of drawing it up. This happened to us twice in the 18 years we lived there and both times filled the house with smoke. We had minor smoke damage and I spent a week each time cleaning walls, floors, upholstery, etc. to get rid of the smoke smell and clean up.

So from now on, I will enjoy my fires OUTSIDE!!!!!

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