Chimney Maintenance

Chimney Maintenance - Cookstove Community

In this series of videos we look at chimney maintenance: Everything from installation to basic tips and tricks for daily use. Chimney maintenance is extremely important for anyone operating a wood stove- cleaning your chimney regularly can prevent chimney fires, and studies have shown that the easier it is to clean a chimney, the more frequently it will be done. In most cases, a chimney can be cleaned from below; never get on any roof unless necessary. Obadiah’s shows you the tricks to cleaning your chimney from below without any mess and very little soot dust inside, using a simple plastic garbage bag, a chimney brush, some rods, and a vacuum.

Featured Video:

Our friend JC gives you some simple, invaluable tips on chimney maintenance

Have you ever had a woodstove smoke every time you try to light a fire when the stove is cold? Do you have an exterior chimney? Some stoves have a tendency to smoke while others do not. Why is that, and what can you do? Wood explains the way a chimney works and why it is so important to the operation of the stove connected to it. Much like the engine in your vehicle affects its performance, the chimney affects the performance of the wood stove and many solid fuel appliances don’t work at all without a chimney. Why, you ask?

Chimneys work using the laws of thermodynamics (heat rises, cold drops). When a chimney get warm, the air inside rises, and the warmer it gets, the faster that air rises. When it is hot inside (300-600 degrees), it is working to suck the smoke out of the firebox much like a vacuum cleaner.

If you’ve been burning wood for years and know you have a weak draft because of your chimney setup and would like to know if there is a “work around”, you came to the right place. Obadiah’s specializes in helping folks find answers to their hearth issues and, in these videos, he introduces you to the Draw Collar Draft Inducer on a wood cook stove. The Draw Collar works like a toaster: It has electric coils wrapped around the stove pipe, which turns cherry red hot. The Draw Collar gets a draft going before you light your fire, not after. Plug it 15-30 minutes before you’re ready to light the fire, and you will be amazed at how the fire in the firebox will take right off because of the combustion air coming into the firebox from the pull as the heat escapes out the top of the chimney.

If you’re getting smoke backing up in your home and don’t understand why, it can be several things:

1. Negative pressure inside the house, often due to something like an exhaust fan running in a bathroom and pulling against the chimney. The mechanical fan will win if left on long enough.

2. Negative or positive pressure outside the structure that is caused by wind, weather, trees, or other structures.

3. Too many elbows. Think about how smoke acts if the stove pipe is clear: Which way provides the path of least resistance? Straight up, or going into a 90 degree elbow, then going sideways, then going back up again? Smoke will always take the path of least resistance. When the smoke hits the first 90 degree, it starts swirling and slows down considerably. The chimney is cold because it’s outside, and when the warm flue gases hit the flue liner, it begins to sweat just like walking outside in the summer with a glass of ice water in you hand. Mix smoke and water and you make lots of creosote very quickly.
Throw into the mix a Greenhorn burning damp green wood and you have the reason for fire departments.

Creosote burns at over 2000 degrees. It is not to be messed with. If you’re reading this and have one of the above issues, then please go to, type in your zipcode, and select from the list of local chimney pros near you who can help you by first evaluating your woodstove, chimney, and firewood. They can tell you what your problem is and clean the chimney while they are there. Creosote buildup is the number one reason that chimney maintenance is extremely important: Neglect your chimeny, and you risk burning your house down.