Yesterday, Laura and I went on a bit of an adventure. We had a few things in mind to do – most of which I’ll cover in later posts. One part of our adventure was to stop by our local hardware store in Madison to pick up some chimney cleaning products. I abandoned my old supplies in the shuffle of moving around in 2013, so I was forced to restock. I would have only been able to use some of what I had anyway, so I’m not as annoyed as I could be. Only partially annoyed.
Anyway, what I needed (and what I purchased, among other things) was a chimney cleaning brush made out of polypropylene. It’s important to use the poly brush with stainless steel chimney liners because the wire ones will scratch up the insides. I took a picture of the box for you. Unfortunately, while taking the picture, I didn’t notice that the Spanish side was showing. If you speak or read Spanish, have at it.
Since my arms are only a few feet long, I had to buy two, 6 foot long chimney cleaning rods with 1/4″ attachments. These look like fiberglass tent poles and this is what I had to leave behind in Connecticut when I left. They were only a few bucks, but still.
Lastly, I needed to get a handheld wire brush to clean the chimney cap screen. When I climbed atop the roof earlier in the week to inspect the chimney, I noticed some crud buildup in the cap.
It’s a little blurry, but you get the idea.
When we got home from our outing yesterday, I quickly grabbed the ladder and went back up on top of the roof. I was losing daylight fast and wanted to clean the chimney and take some pictures to show you. Here’s what I found:
While I’ve seen worse, it is striking how much creosote can build up in just a few weeks of burning wood in a wood stove. As you can see, the pipe leading down to the stove isn’t bad. The cap is the worst and I attribute that to slow, cool fires, creating a lot of smoke, leading to that smoke settling and condensing onto the coolest part of the chimney – the cap. But that’s why I went up there – to clean it. That’s also why I bought that little brush.
To clean the actual chimney, I assembled the brush and the rods and ran the whole thing up and down the pipe a few times. The way I set up the stove is really beneficial to me when it comes to cleaning time. The pipe is only about twelve fee in its entirety and it’s straight down. And debris falls directly into the stove.
What you see above is what came out of the chimney. It’s not much, but I think it’s indicative of the creosote buildup possibilities. Cool fires in the fall and spring can do a number on your chimney and cap. You have to clean them.
When I was finished, I put everything back together and made a really kickass fire that Laura and I got drunk in front of for hours. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Yesterday, we had to stop by Campbell’s building supply in Madison to take some pictures for a website I’m working on. I’m doing some pro bono work for a friend of ours and they’ve got a display set up in this particular store that needed to be digitally captured. While we were there, I noticed Campbell’s was selling some BioBricks.
I’ve been wondering about these bricks for some time, so I decided to purchase one package of them. A package includes 20 bricks and weighs 38 pounds. The package makes numerous claims about how great they are and how they are superior to cord wood, but what I really noticed was that I can get a bag of pellets for $4 and that bag would weigh 40 pounds. These bricks only weigh 38 pounds and cost $7.89. That’s almost twice the cost of the pellets and the pellets would give me about one day of heat. Needless to say, I was quite interested in how long these bricks would burn. The package claims the bricks are twice as dense as cord wood, which led me to believe I would see them flaming away in the stove for a good long time.
I burned a few BioBricks last night and I have to say, they burn rather well. I can’t say they did any better or worse than regular wood because I truly didn’t notice any difference. I also didn’t notice any difference in the length of time these bricks burned for. I had them mixed in with wood and when I log was finished burning, so was the BioBrick.
One thing I did notice though was that the BioBricks did burn hotter, which means that you might get away with burning fewer of them when compared to what you’d have to burn in cord wood to get the same amount of heat. I’m sure there’s all sorts of BTU test results floating around out there – I’m just offering a quick opinion.
I’d say that if you can afford them, these bricks would make your life easier. They are super easy to store and burn and you’d get a really consistent fire. But again, I think they are a little pricey. If they were $200 a ton, I’d grab some, but at the $389 per ton that Tractor Supply is charging, no thanks. I just picked these up from Campbell’s out of sheer curiosity.
Lastly, I’ve been thinking about getting back into video editing recently. I haven’t made any videos in about two years and I enjoy the whole process. I’ve even been considering picking up a sweet little GoPro camera to help out in my video production. To wet my whistle once more, I decided to create a short video of the fire burning in our Englander 30-NCH wood burning stove. I added a few effects and put some music to it. I think I just wanted to see if I still had it. Enjoy the video. It’s only a bit longer than 3 minutes.