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Small Cabin Forum / General Forum / Chimney Fires
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Nobadays
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# Posted: 14 May 2019 20:33
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So.... I have had wood burning stoves for my primary heat source for over 40 of my 64 years and in that time I have only had one chimney fire - a brick chimney and no damage other than to my ego when as a volunteer fire fighter I arrive at he fire and it is my house!! Yeah... you don't live that down!

We just took a load of "stuff" up to the cabin and it snowed the first couple of days we were there so we had a fire all day. We were up there this winter in the below zero Fahrenheit weather as well so obviously had a fire day and night. The cabin was almost as cold inside as outside when we arrived during the winter. There is approx 18' of single wall stove pipe up to the double wall piercing the cathedral ceiling.... way too much single wall but it's what we have. This winter's fires with damp Aspen wood, cold house and lots of exposed single wall pipe was a recipe for creosote build up.

BTW we just bought the cabin.... when we arrived last week we "slapped the crap" out of the pipe and though we heard a bit of creosote fall surprisingly not much. Oh I should add here the roof is a 12x12 metal roof and no ladder affixed to get up to clean the flue...yet. That will be done soon

As we burned fires over the last week we noted creosote dripping down the pipe as we really fired the stove hot - yes the PO installed the pipe upside down! TO BE CLEAR WE DIDN'T HAVE A FLUE FIRE.

I have always burned a very hot fire every morning then usually again in the evening before banking the fire for the night. This seems to help keep creosote buildup minimal. Often when I go up to clean the flue there is almost no creosote.

All this to ask what would you do if you experienced a chimney fire at YOUR cabin? I have my ideas but I'm eager to hear... and learn from you all!

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 14 May 2019 21:30 - Edited by: toyota_mdt_tech
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A fire fighter told me to take a Styrofoam cup full of water, open the stove door, toss it in, close the door. The steam will kill the chimney fire.

I do also run some stuff in the stove that is supposed to clear out creosote too. Small granular stuff, and not much needed.

old243
Member
# Posted: 14 May 2019 22:37
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I would recommend, the small amount of water . Close the door quickly. The sudden steam shock , should put out or bring it under control. Running a hot fire in the morning, is good. You will probably have a tiny, chimney fire regularly, rather than , one big one. I have also put a ball of newspaper, in the flue and lit it, the suction of the chimney , will take the newspaper up and set the creosote on fire, and burn it out. Don't do this unless you know you have a , good flue. Also get your saw out and cut next winters wood, right away, for next winter. old243

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 09:40
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Toyota-Old243...

A cup of water is what I have always been told is pretty effective at knocking down flue fires... just want to know if there are other methods. Is there any commercially available chemical "thingy" made? I'm thinking some packet you throw on the fire that releases a fire suppressing gas as it burns...

It just dawned on me sitting there looking at the stove and all that exposed flue that we are a full hour from town so we - probably most of us on here - are on our own when it comes to fires. We have a medium sized fire extinguisher by both the front and back door and we plan to keep the cistern full. Might want to think about a long hose that is always hooked to the pressure side of the water system. The shurflow pump is outside in an insulated box with an independent power supply, so it would be possible to have water to help fight fire...just not much.

What preparations do all of you make?

Old243.... We have several standing dead aspen tha will be next years firewood. All of the wood the PO had stacked up was seasoned but left uncovered so damp from rain and snow. I'm a HUGE proponent of burning DRY wood! Why use your heat to dry it out in the firebox for 1, and 2 added moisture means added creosote.

KelVarnsen
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 09:57
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Chimfex makes a Chimney Fire Extinguisher product that I've been looking at. Can't seem to find a cheap supplier in Canada.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 11:16
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Kel.... thank you! I guess I have been too lazy to do any searching... I do see Red Devil makes a similar product. It too is $$ $35.00 on Amazon. But... the folks that gave it 5 stars who have actually used it says it works! The Chemfex wouldn't work for me as I only have one arm... you have to strike it like a flare. The Red Devil product you just toss in.

Is there a favorite creosote treatment any of you use? I'm thinking like, Creosote Buster, Flue-Renew, Creosote Destroyer?

Thanks!

creeky
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 12:37
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I was told a handful of salt is an excellent creosote remover. Apparently what the commercial cleaners use.
I run a cleaning log and then brush every fall.

Maybe salt isn't such a good idea tho
" The salt combines with the water in the burning wood to create a weak acid that travels up the chimney and dissolves small amounts of creosote. This method should be used with care, however. It should not be overdone and should not be used in a metal chimney, as the acid can interact with the metal and cause corrosion."

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 16:46
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Quoting: KelVarnsen
Chimfex makes a Chimney Fire Extinguisher product that I've been looking at. Can't seem to find a cheap supplier in Canada.


I bought a couple from Lowes in sarnia a few years ago for a reasonable price. Haven't had to use it yet and hope I never do.

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 17:14
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We have what looks like a road flair (may be Chemfex brand). We have not had a chimney fire so I can't vouch for how it might work.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 21:24 - Edited by: ICC
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Every wood stove location I have had always has at least a 10 lb dry chem ABC extinguisher handy, but between the wood stove and the exit door. Here in the main house, I'm looking at a 20# in the corner where the exterior door opens. In case of a fire open the wood stove door and blast the extinguisher. The air flow caused by the fire will carry the dry chem up and put out the fire.

Our volunteer fire dept of which I used to be an active member, carries dry chem "bombs" on all the trucks. It's a plastic bag full of dry chem ABC. They are dropped from the top, fall to the bottom, melt open and the hot gases distribute the chem up the pipe. That does require roof access and fire protective clothing though so may not be a good idea for the DIY person.

Use of ABC powder can make a mess but that is still preferable to a fire consuming the building.

A cup water tossed in is probably okay but you do have to be careful of the amount as too much, if it hits hot iron, can cause cast iron to fracture.

Of course, prevention is better than having a fire, so clean the flue as necessary. I find an annual cleanout is sufficient for my type of use, type of wood, etc. I have a chart on the inside of the house side door that I use to fill in dates of chimney cleaning. The same chart has a list of all the fire extinguishers, they are all numbered and the location listed. Inspection dates are filled in. I do the simple checks myself but have them emptied and refilled every 6 years in town. Most are dry chem but I also have some CO2 and some water tank spray types. Four in total inside the house, 6 in the shop, four in the barn, 3 in the hanger. Cheap enough when the distance between me and the fire station is considered.

I have never had a chimney fire of my own.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2019 22:28 - Edited by: toyota_mdt_tech
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Quoting: Nobadays
Is there a favorite creosote treatment any of you use? I'm thinking like, Creosote Buster, Flue-Renew, Creosote Destroyer?



I am not sure of the name, but I did buy a granular stuff, supposed to keep creosote clear. I put it in a small lunch bag, not much, tablespoon or so and toss it into fire. I got it from Amazon. I think it was one you mentioned.

I also have this exact megnetic meter, stuck on stop pipe (single wall section) about 12" above woodstove and keep the gauge in the sweet spot.

It was Rutland Creosote Remover.
gauge.jpg
gauge.jpg


rockies
Member
# Posted: 16 May 2019 19:46
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From the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

https://www.csia.org/chimneyfires.html

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 19 May 2019 08:17
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Since the single wall is installed upside down i would go over the whole chimney. Sounds like a cob job install.

Also you dont want double wall in the ceiling or outside. You want tripple wall or class A.

The fire may not be your fault as you dont know how the stove was burned before and you didnt start with a clean chimney. Also i wouldnt blame it on 18' of single wall just yet.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 19 May 2019 09:02
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Brettny.... I will be going over all of it soon. We are moving to the cabin for the summer Thursday. Over all I think they did a good job on the install - probably is triple wall through the roof, the stainless stuff...

No fir yet but seeing the creosote oozing from the joints made me wonder if there was a good way to extinguish a chimney fire other than a cup of water.

I ended up buying the Meeco's Red Devil FireEx:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003JJ2OAI/
I'm sure the "flare" type would work too but I only have one arm so likely couldn't strike one of those.

PA_Bound
Member
# Posted: 20 May 2019 16:50 - Edited by: PA_Bound
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As a volunteer fire fighter in a large county just outside of Washington DC, I responded to many chimney fires. An ABC fire extinguisher is all we ever used. A short blast either directly up the chimney (fireplace) or into the stove (ideally with the damper open) will suck in that dry chem like a jet engine intake. And a short blast or two is usually all it takes. When the chimney fire is extinguished remove any burning products from the fire place or stove and don't use it again until the chimney has been thoroughly cleaned and inspected (the heat can damage both metal and masonry chimneys).

And be careful of using water/steam, too much in a masonry chimney can cause the masonry to crack due to drastic temperature changes. Then the whole flue will need to be re-lined. We were trained to never use water on chimney fires.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 20 May 2019 17:18
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PA.... Thank you for this!

PA_Bound
Member
# Posted: 20 May 2019 18:35
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One other point as an FYI... if you have ever have to use dry chem on a chimney fire, make sure you tell whoever you hire to later clean it (or remind yourself, if you a DIY kinda' guy) that you did and remind them to use respiratory protection. Dry chem is really fine and quite messy to clean up (sort of like drywall dust), and while I don't know that it's overly bad for you, I wouldn't want to inhale too much of that.

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