10 February 2007

The Wrong Kind of High?

I woke up about 1 o'clock this morning when the fire had burned itself almost completely out. Staggering around half asleep I got more wood, and got the heat going again, then laid back down on the couch, where I sleep when I want to make sure I'm not gonna let the fire go out.

Somehow, with eyes barely open, I was at exactly the right angle to notice that the top of my chimney was no longer connected to the piece that leads through the roof and out of the house.

I said a bad word and wondered how long the chimney had been disconnected. And while there was no visible smoke coming out of the rather large gap, I thought about carbon monoxide and how I've been sick this week and how Amy comlained that every time she sat on the couch to do her homework she fell asleep, despite getting plenty of sleep every night.

I said another bad word and, still half asleep, pulled myself off the couch and over to the stove.

Did I mention I had just gotten the fire going again?

The chimney was merely very warm but the stove itself was pretty hot and it wasn't possible to brace myself upon it to get the chimney reconnected. And because the telescoping pipe that leads from the stove to the roof got a little bunged up during installation, bracing was a requirement.

After ten minutes I gave up, opened the window next to the wood stove, shut down the fire and took myself off to bed.

Come morning, of course, there was a stove to deal with, so I worked on the computer for a while, and mopped the kitchen floor. Finally, there was nothing left for it but to tackle the chimney.

First, I took it all apart, because the reason it had come unhinged was because every piece of it was unhinged. The chimney consists of a collar, a small pipe at a 45 degree angle, another small pipe at the opposite 45 degree angle, the telescoping piece that doesn't telescope, and the final run that goes through the roof. All of these were packed with cresote that had to be cleaned out because, if you're gonna move chimney pieces around, every bit of creosote that's in them will fall on your head.

That will happen when you clean them out, too, of course, so by the time I was ready to put it all back together again, I looked like the little match girl.

I took a break to clean myself up, and vacuum up all the creosote that had made its way throughout the living room, and to mop the kitchen floor again where I had tracked soot over to the sink.

I began to put pieces together, but at the end, the telescoping pipe MUST telescope up to the final connection. I couldn't make it do it, no matter how hard I cussed. I waited for Amy to come home.

Amy was thrilled to learn that she was gonna get to help me pull the telescoping pipe apart, and she made sure to garb herself in one of MY sweatshirts before doing so.

We still couldn't do it. Darn thing acted like it was welded together. "Mom, why don't we put some butter on it?" she asked.

NO, I didn't put butter on it. I did that the first time I had to try to get the pipe to telescope, and I learned my lesson as the butter smoked and cooked itself off of the heated pipe. Wax doesn't work, either (second time I took it all apart), nor does baby oil (third time). By the way, the only way to clean the chimney is to take it all apart - this is why I do this so frequently.

And why I never put the screws back in to any of the pieces.

As Amy's strength was not quite enough to help me pull the telescoping pipe apart, it appeared I was going to have to screw in each piece so that I had a strong base to pull against for that final step. This is easier said than done.

You see, from the collar at the stove to the receptacle at the ceiling, the pipes have to match up EXACTLY.

And that's where I'm at now. Screwing pipes in, getting to the end, and discovering I'm off just a quarter inch or so to making it fit.

I think it's time to work on the computer for a while. That way, I don't end up throwing the pipes out into the front yard.

1 comment:

Word Tosser said...

AH,Yes, thanks for reminding me why I don't want wood heat... Every so often the thought runs thru my mind when I smell the wood burning at a restaurant in their lovely fireplace...
But no, I don't miss the woodpile (never mind the gathering) and the wood chips in the house, and of course the repair, because they always come apart during the night.