Thursday, 1 January 2009

Cooker Troubles

I thought 2009 was going to carry on where 2008 left off when my wood burning cooker started to smoke yesterday. At first it was just a little smoke from around the base of the flue pipe. By the time I went to bed I could barely see across the kitchen so I left it on fast burn to burn out overnight. Thankfully the temperature has almost been in double figures during the day here and I think only dropped to 6 or 7 overnight.

By 10 am the cooker was cold enough for me to start dismantling it for cleaning, something I was rather apprehensive about. In the end it was much easier than I thought it would be and all my training lugging heavy weights over the last year meant I was able to lift out the cast iron cooking plates that are a single piece. As you can see it was pretty gunked up.

This is where the flue pipe meets the chimney.

That done I looked at the chimney, it was totally blocked with cinders. Picture is slightly out of focus as to take it I had to stand on the cooker with my head up inside the concrete cooker hood effect that covers the two cookers.

I'd had it swept last year and then it hadn't been used until November. Once I'd started shovelling the gunk out I realised what had happened. I'm using not-ideal, but free wood which leads to more tar but I'd not been getting an efficient burn due to there being a hornets nest partially blocking the chimney. No problem from the hornets at the moment thankfully they were well and truly toasted.

So after around 3 hours I had a fully cleaned out cooker, the chimney as clean as I can get it at the moment, I'm hopping that I will now get a hotter burn which will dry out the tar deposits and enable me to chip them off the sides of the chimney, something I think I need to do every 6 weeks or so.

I think it's done a lot of good, the fire caught in less than half an hour and reheating the unit has taken only 6 hours rather than the day it took the first time I lit it. All in all I think the 7€50 I spent on chimney brushes last year have already paid for themselves and I can now add chimney sweep and cooker engineer to my growing list of new skills.


Olive said...

Could this problem be caused by using green wood?
Congratulations for tackling the job yourself, I had a little chuckle,imagining position you must have had to get into.
I hope you have a Happy New Year, there on your beautiful property in France.

Barbara Martin said...

Wonderful post and I had a good chuckle at the demise of the hornets. Olive is probably correct, and you need to allow your chopped wood to sit a year outside to dry out. It can be done in a rotating cycle.

Hope your New Year for 2009 brings you more interesting stories to post about, good health, peace and prosperity to you and yours, Deb.

dND said...

Hi Olive and Barbara and a Happy and prosperous New Year to you both.

Yes the wood is too green - it's what the French tend to use though after keeping it for 8 months to a year. Currently it's the only wood I have and it's free in return for helping in the orchards, but I'm hoping to start stockpiling some and getting it properly seasoned.

Mickle in NZ said...

Firstly - Happy New Year.

Then - oh, my goodness. My folks have have a couple of woodburning stoves for heating. Summer was always the "clean the flue/chimney time" Somehow I managed to completely avoid the mess of it - for years.

Relieved wood burning cooker now behaving. Saddened by death of your dear Llama.

Hope Snowy has healed well and that 2009 is kind to you,

Huggles and care, Mickle xxx

dND said...

Hi Mickle,

It was a bit 'Oh my' wasn't it. Still it's all a big learning curve. I've hacked my way through the undergrowth and felled trees to a pile of wood I found dotted round the farm when I moved here. That should be pretty well seasoned by now so I'll move over to that and hope it lasts this season. I can than let the other wood I've been promised dry out until next year.

Snowy is healing very well, just a couple of scabs to go but I don't think this is the last of it. I think she's likely to get something on the other ear this year - there's a rough patch very similar to the one she had on the ear with the growth. But we shall see, at least I know what I'm looking for now.

Happy New Year to you and Zebbycat too

Anonymous said...

Hi there followed you over here from MSE you have a lovely life

I vaguely remember a discussion on MSE about burning potato peelings helping clean chimmneys not sure if that would help you in the future

Shaz mum of 2

dND said...

Hi Shaz

I've never heard of that use for potato peelings but I'm going to follow it up so thank you ever so much.

Life is quite different here to the UK, both the country itself and the life I've taken up but fun :-D Being a farmer though I think I'm going to need all the MSE tips I can to stretch income.