I’m the kind of person who is very fond of being warm, and who frequently feels the cold. That’s why when we had our small beach house built I insisted on a woodburner. We decided on a Wagener Sparky.
One of its benefits was that you can actually cook on the top, and we have quite frequent power outages here. If it’s a freezing winter’s day and the power goes out we can be warm and have a cup of tea.
The woodburner was installed while the house was still being built. I think it looks quite fine.
But then, before the house was finished, one windy day I went to look around and heard a mighty whistling noise. It sounds rather like a traditional Māori flute, but not tuneful. Listen carefully to the 30 second video below and you’ll understand why we wanted the whistling sorted out. This is, after all, a very windy area. It’s also a quiet rural area and that whistling would drive us crazy within minutes.
The story you haven’t heard or read yet is how long it took and how much wrangling there was before our house was finished. This whistling problem went on the list of things we wrangled about. In the end though, someone came and used some special black fire resistant stuff to block up a couple of small vents inside the fire box. I’m pleased to say, that worked.
It was only because he wanted to know what model it was though that we discovered the woodburner we received was the next model up from the Sparky we ordered. I hadn’t noticed the different appearance. Ours seems to be the CookTop Wagener Stove, a larger, and presumably more expensive model that puts out twice as much heat. I have some thoughts on why the builder put in this more expensive model, but they need to wait for another post.
There are a great many birds in this area and they love our roof. One question I had for the builders that was never answered by them was if the flue had bird netting, and if not, could it be installed.
One weekend last year though, when we were visiting for a couple of days in cooler weather, the fire wouldn’t draw and clouds of smoke billowed into the house.
Naturally we called a chimney sweep. He cleaned out all the soot and told me the problem had been caused by incorrectly installed bird netting across the top of the flue which had trapped a build up of soot, causing even more to accumulate.
He removed the sooted up stuff and installed fresh, larger diameter netting around the flue top. He also introduced me to the idea of a wood fire
happy hour: I was to have the fire burn at maximum for about 45 minutes after lighting as that would help burn off any soot in the flue, keeping things clear.
Since then, following his advice, the fire has burned nicely.
The next, ‘problem’ to deal with was firewood. It was easy enough to buy a load of dry firewood, but we didn’t have anywhere to put it, other than in a heap in the front yard. That problem hasn’t really been resolved yet, though I did stack some against the front deck and put the rest on an old wooden pallet so it was off the ground. That heap is covered with a tarp in the meantime.
Most of the firewood is ready as is for the woodburner, but I bought a good axe and an inexpensive hatchet, and an axe sharpener. Some pieces are too big for the fire box, though not many. I also select some of the blocks with a nice straight grain and chop them for kindling. I figure it’s good exercise.
We bought a basket for firewood and another for kindling, and, of course, a metal bucket, brush and hearth shovel for dealing with ashes which I scatter on the garden once they’re cold.
Now all those things are sorted I just love the fire. On chilly mornings I light it when I get up and the indoor temperature rises quickly. I let it burn for an hour or two then leave it to die out.
The house is warm (sometimes too hot) and the fire friendly and cheerful. I love that I can heat the house then fling the doors open when the sun rises, for a glorious blend of fresh air and warmth.
The cats and dogs seem to love it too.
This is a far different experience than the mild warmth of the heat pump we had in our Wellington house. I’m thrilled with the change.