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Get your chimney cleaned and your furnace checked. November 26, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben lives in a tiny wooden cottage, which, as you might think, is vulnerable to fire. Fortunately, Silence Dogood and I have never had an unplanned fire here, though we had a close call last winter when an infrared heater overloaded our ancient wiring and caused a wall to go red-hot. (Fortunately, Silence discovered this in time to save the day.)

We have a fuel-oil furnace that came with the house, which means it’s more than 20 years old. We hate to think what it would cost to replace it, so we’re grateful that our service contract with our oil provider includes annual furnace maintenance.

But I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve been negligent about our woodstove. After the power failed in an ice storm the year after we bought our cottage home, we had a woodstove installed in the fireplace. We’ve used it to keep ourselves reasonably warm and the pipes from freezing in power outages, and of course we’ve enjoyed the occasional blazing fire as a luxury rather than a necessity. But we’ve never had the chimney pipe cleaned.

Our woodstove has a catalytic converter. But even so, creosote buildup in the pipe could be a potential fire hazard. Given how extraordinarily cold it’s been this fall, Silence and I finally broke down and asked the man who installed the stove to please come clean the chimney. (He actually remembered us, and where we lived, after all these years.) He’s supposed to come today, weather permitting, and Silence and I will have a much happier holiday season knowing that our chimney won’t set the house on fire.

If, like us, you’ve been putting this chore off, or you don’t have your furnace serviced every year, winter is coming. To our mind, it’s already here. Make maintenance a priority so you can go into the worst weather with the confidence that, whatever happens, your chimney won’t catch fire and your furnace will keep working.