The Wood Stove is Ready

The good folks from Professional Chimney Services have completed their work now, and our little Regency F1100 wood stove is installed and ready for use. Now we wait for cooler weather.

Somehow I had it in my mind that when Ken from Professional Chimney Services finished his work that he would light the first fire in the stove, but that turned out to be incorrect. Ken says that the stove really doesn’t draw well until the temperature of the outside air is below 70 degrees F. So now we will wait for cooler weather before we light our first fire. And it will be tiny.

According to Ken (and the manufacturer, Regency Wood Stoves), the fire bricks need to be tempered when they are new so they won’t crack. The way to do that is to let the first fire be a very small one and let it cool down slowly. Then a slightly larger fire, and again let it cool down slowly. Then a slightly larger fire, and again let it cool down slowly. The idea is to let the interior of the stove and in particular the fire bricks inside the stove get accustomed to the temperature extremes they will face over their life in the stove.

As most of you know, one of our guiding narratives has been the excellent piece on Alternet about the importance of staying warm. So even in Alabama we are fiends for finding ways to stay warm, preferably without using fossil fuel.

Those of you who don’t live in the south may be asking yourself at this point, “What is this guy smoking? He’s living in central Alabama and he’s worried about staying warm?” And that certainly seems a reasonable question as I post this in August, when the temperature routinely makes it into the 90s and sometimes tops the century mark. The fact is, however, that central Alabama has distinct seasons, and it’s not unusual at all for the nighttime low temp to drop into the 20s during January and not unheard of to have lows in the teens. Yes, friend, it can get cold in Alabama.

Whenever anybody comes to our farm, they immediately start kidding Amanda and me about our firewood. We have cut, split, and stacked on pallets in the pole barn a little more than two cords of wood. And as I have noted before, a legitimate cord (4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet of solid wood) is a LOT of firewood.

We plan to use only the wood stove for our heat in the pole barn, but we don’t know how much wood we will burn. At times we worry that we haven’t prepared enough, and at times we wonder whether our little apartment is so small and so well-insulated that the heat from the refrigerator and our body heat will be all the heat we need. Check back with us after a winter or two, when we’ll have a much clearer idea than we have now about which is correct.

The video runs about 4 1/2 minutes and takes you from the installation of the chimney through the final installation of the stove itself, with a couple of cogent explanations from Ken Craig of Professional Chimney Services about how the stove and chimney work.

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