Cabin Life – #2

“The Walking Woodstove.”  That’s what one of my buddies called me.  And I have to admit that this is not a disputed nickname.  I had to wash my clothes at Christmas time because “You live with the smell, so you probably don’t notice how strong it is.”  Alright, I get it, I smell like a freaking campfire.  I could say that I’ve invented a new cologne called “Flaming,” but that’s not true.  I just stink like fire.

The stove in the cabin looks really nice.  But it sucks.  There’s a multitude of problems with the stove that I’ll get to in a minute.  But first, I want to address this inhumane, ignorant, and self-righteous campaign against all of those people who smell like fire.  Sure, as in any large group there’s going to be a few arsonists included, but for the most part, we who heat with wood are hard-working and upstanding members of the community.  Just because I give off the aroma of a burning barn doesn’t mean I’m responsible for the Great Chicago Fire.  This discrimination needs to stop.

Now, the woodstove.  This thing is a piece of junk, and I think I know why.  Most likely it’s a crappy woodstove because it’s actually a coal burning stove.  Huh.  I was initially told that it was a woodstove that could also burn coal.  Turns out that the opposite is true.  Well, I’ve been burning wood in it for three months now, and I’ve only had one chimney fire.

It was a cool, but not cold, weekend at the end of October.  My then-girlfriend was coming to visit, and I thought that I would get a little fire going just to take the chill out of the cabin.  After getting a fire going, I was cleaning up a little and I started to smell something funky.  Not like burning wood, but something definitely burning.  I checked the stove, and it seemed fine; I checked the crawl –space attic, and nothing was going on up there.  But I kept smelling it, so I grabbed a flashlight and went outside just to make sure the roof wasn’t on fire or anything crazy like that.

I got outside, and lo and behold, there were flames shooting out of the top of the chimney and big hunks of hot coals falling onto the roof.  Luckily, it was during a rainy spell and the roof didn’t catch fire.  I called Amy real quick, told her what was going on and asked the address so I could call 911 (I didn’t think this place had an address and I’m kind of disappointed that it does).  I figured it would take about 30 minutes for the volunteer fire department to get here, and I didn’t want to wait until the roof actually caught on fire to make the call.

To my surprise, the first firefighter showed up about five minutes later, followed by a neighbor that Amy had called.  The neighbor and I put out the fire in the stove, but by then the flames had died down to nothing, and the roof was still not on fire.  Whew.

The rest of the department got there, and everyone was very nice and didn’t seem in the least bit pissed that I had called them for no reason.  I think they were happy that they got to take the truck out, but that none of them were ever in danger.

One unfortunate side effect of living in a very small town is that everyone knows your business.  Lots of people are in the fire department and lots of people listen to scanners, mainly because they like to help each other out if it’s a real emergency.  All I garnered was a bunch of “Chimney fire, eh?” comments from behind hidden smirks every time I went to the store.  Thanks for noticing, guys.

Oh yeah, the stove.  The door is too high on the fire box, so every time I open it to put in a log, a bunch of smoke rolls out and that’s why I smell like a fire all the time.  Plus, the firebox is too deep, so no air gets to the fire unless the door is partially opened.  This means that smoke is rolling out of the woodstove many, many times a day, again, causing me to smell like fire all the time.

If I had to give you one solid piece of advice for heating with wood, it is this:  Don’t buy a coal stove.  Buy a woodstove.  And be proud of your musky aroma.


4 thoughts on “Cabin Life – #2

  1. I’ve lived in homes heated with wood all my life and never once heard someone say that I smelled like wood smoke. There is no reason they should – your stove is dangerous if you smell smoke inside your house. It’s not just a problem of smell, but also of carbon monoxide. You are lucky to be alive. Stop using your stove and get it looked at by someone who knows what they are doing. Burning wood in a coal stove is no problem whatsoever and has nothing to do with the smell, you probably have a bad draft due to any number of issues, most directly, a failure to clean your chimney – hence the chimney fire that could have easily burned the place down with you in it. You should NEVER have smoke roll out of your stove, no matter how high the door or firebox are – that’s has nothing at all to do with it. Get some expert advice as this is obviously something you are not familiar with.

    • Hey, thanks for the advice. I actually only had this problem for a little while, due to a faulty fiberglass gasket around the door and a roommate who could not keep a fire going to save his life. It was really just my clothes that smelled for a bit until I had a chance to wash them.

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