WOOD STOVES & WOOD BURNING INSERTS
THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE DANGEROUS!
Doodlebuggers has been cleaning and installing wood stoves, wood inserts in Pensacola-Destin areas since 1998.
FIREPLACE INSERTS became popular in the 1970’s during the nations first oil crisis. Homeowners were told they could just slip their wood burning insert into the fireplace opening and presto, have a cozier, more economical way to winter warmth.
It soon became apparent, however, that inserts presented a unique installation and maintenance challenge. Their safe use as originally hooked up became highly suspect. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and chimney service professionals began to view them with alarm. The incidence of house fires traced to the inadequate installation and maintenance of fireplace inserts escalated.
Many smoke chambers and chimneys ARE TOO BIG to properly vent an insert stove. A typical masonry chimney designed to vent an open fire place, has a 12 by 12-inch tile liner (144 square inches). The average insert stove requires an 8-inch round chimney, or about 51 square inches. This helps speed the much smaller volume of flue gases up and out of the chimney before they have a chance to cool down and cause trouble.
The villain here, the thing that creates a safety hazard, is the excessive production of creosote. Creosote is contained in the volatile flue gases coming up the chimney with the smoke. When these gases are allowed to linger in the flue because of an oversize chimney, they cool, causing the creosote to condense onto the walls of firebox, smoke chamber and chimney.
These creosote deposits constitute a fuel that can cause intense chimney fires when ignited. One chimney fire, or a series of chimney fires, can cause unseen structural damage to the chimney and can eventually cause adjacent flammable materials (joists, studs, wall paneling, roofing, wallpaper and mantel) to catch on fire. Exposed to heat over a period of time, all of these combustibles undergo a process called “pyrolysis,” which causes their ignition temperatures to be lowered so they ignite much more easily than was possible before.
A combustible doesn’t need exposure to direct flame. It can ignite whenever oxygen is available and its temperature is raised high enough. The pictures below are just a few examples of wood burning inserts without proper liners. We have taken as much as 6- 13 gallon trash bags of creosote out of chimneys before.