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Installing a stove

Night-time temperatures are falling below freezing. Days are around 10 decrees celcius, sometimes warmer sometimes colder. To maintain comfortable indoor temperature it is necessarily to heat the house. I have two rooms, and a fireplace in each room. Both of the fireplaces are so designed that the fire doesn't go directly into the chimney, but runs through narrow channels inside the fireplace - the walls of channels absorb the heat of fire. So, even when the fire goes out, the mass of the fireplace stays hot, radiating wartm into the room. Also, in the chimney near the ceiling there is a special piece of metal which can be slided to open or to close the chimney, either allowing or stopping the flow of air inside the chimney. That makes the fireplaces even more effective - the hot air trapped inside the fireplace will just stay there instead of escaping into the night sky.

I've been living in this house for more than five years, and I still don't know for sure if the chimney in the main room has one or two channels inside it. I mean, there used to be a baking oven and a stove in the main room, which means two fireplaces, and in the chimney there has been a separate channel for each fireplace in this room. But when I bought the house, the old oven and stove had been already taken down, and intsead there was only a small fireplace. And the base of the chimney is covered with white decorative plastering - it might be that somewhere under that plastering is hidden an another smoke channel. But it as well might also be that the people who tore down the old fireplaces have also altered the structure of chimney, blocking the other channel. Well, someday I have to hack the plastering away to see the actual masonry.

Since I threw out both the electric stove and a 30 litre hot water boiler / tank, I've been just cooking outdoors. But for the winter it would be nice to have a wood burning stove indoors. Not only just for cooking, but also for having warm water. In the summer it wasn't that much an issue, because the water running from the well to the watertap wasn't ice cold - as it is now. And constantly washing ones hands with ice cold water quickly gets rather unpleasant. So, I bought a nice wood-burning stove from my neighbour. A problem solved? Almost. The questions to be solved were: Should I try to preserve the current fireplace, spend time trying to find if there is a second smoke channel hidden - and if so, is it so located that it is physically possible to install my new stove next to the other fireplace? Or, should I just take down the current fireplace - that way I would know for sure that there is a functional smoke channel and all the space needed for installing the stove. But, I don't know for sure how easy it actually is to install the stove; my neighbour said that it is so heavy that it took four men to carry it. So, if I first take down the fireplace, and then transporting or installing the fireplace happens to take a lot of time, I'll be living in a not-so-warm house for a while...

Still, that is what I decided to do. I started by taking down the fireplace. With a crowbar it was surprisingly easy to disassemble it, piece by piece. And in so doing I was confirmed that it was a good decision, as I saw that some pieces inside the fireplace were already badly cracked and nearly collapsed. So the fireplace wouldn't have lasted for long anyway; better to take it down while the winter is not yet here. I don't remember exactly, maybe it was two or three days I spent living with only one fireplace in the other room. Overall, the house was getting slowly colder and colder. So, I prepared to ask some of my neighbours to help with installing the stove. It is an old Finnish custom to offer food or beer to voluntary workers, so I bought three litres of beer. Loading the stove was rather easy, as my neighbour was storing the stove in his carage where he also has a lift strong enough to lift a car. We used the lift to raise the stove, then moved a trailer into the carage - under the stove hanging from the forks of the lift - and just lowered the stove. There it was neatly sitting on the trailer, and I drove carefully to my place.

In my yard I parked the car so that the trailer was next to my house. Unluckily, I was not possible to get the trailer next to the door. But because I'm anyway renovating the entrance hall, I just took down some boards from the wall - effectively opening up a big hole next to the trailer. So, now I had the heavy stove sitting on the trailer, the trailer some 30 cm away from the house, a good hole in the wall, and a direct route through the entrance hall into the main room. But the stove was heavy. My first thought was to use a cart (I don't know what it is exactly called in English - I guess it is kind of a Stair Climbing Dolly). But to effectively use that it is necessary to tilt the load so much that the balance of the weight rests exactly on the wheels. And that I couldn't do. But trying to tilt the stove I realized that I can actually rotate it. So, I went to the right side of the stove, grabbed it firmly, tilted it slightly so that the weight was now resting on the left side of the stove, and then kind of a rotating and pushing the right side forward - an inch or two. Then I went to the left side, doing the same. This way I could slowly "walk" the stove forward, side by side, inch by inch. When I finally got onto the even floor of the main room, I tried the dolly again - now I could properly load and tilt the stove, and just let the wheels roll...

The base of the chimney was left with a square hole, which is where the smoke channel enters into the chimney and continues running all the way up to the top of the chimney. In the back side of the stove there was a round hole, with a 20 cm metal tube. That is where the smoke and hot air exit the stove. So I just had to place the stove so that the metal tube fits into the hole in the chimney, and then place some fire-proof wool around the tube to make it tight and sound, securing all the smoke inside the channel with no holes for sparks to accidentally escape into the room. Well, but the tube behind the stove was just a little bit higher that the hole in the chimney. So I had to bring in some tools and hack away pieces of masonry of the chimney, making the hole bigger. After that the tube fit neatly in, just leaving some extra space under it, as now the top of the hole met finely the top of the tube, but the bottom of the hole was a lot lower than the bottom of the tube. But that is what fire-proof wool is for =)

I put some paper in the fireplace of the stove, lit it and went outdoors looking at the top of the chimney. And there it was, a thin column of smoke rising up. And no smoke inside the room. Success! I started a proper fire in the stove, filled a pot with water and cooked myself some coffee. Oh, and installing the stove all alone also meant that I won all the beer for myself =) That is why I didn't write this blog entry on that night - I smoked some fish for food, heated up the sauna, relaxed and drank all the beer in the process.

The square hole near the floor is entrance to the chimney.
The square hole near the floor is entrance to the chimney.
Old fireplace in pieces.
Old fireplace in pieces.
Wood-burning stove installed.
Wood-burning stove installed.
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And in case somebody really is interested to get a better picture of how things were, I browsed the "Picture of The Day"-album. There was one shot where you see the old fireplace with a drying rack on top of it: http://www.enormouselk.com/?q=erkkasblog/images/13th-june-2014

And and alternative shot of the freshly installed stove, with the fire-chamber door open. On the left, two bigger doors are for ovens. Yes, this one has two ovens. And behind the lower-right door there is a box for ashes. http://www.enormouselk.com/?q=erkkasblog/images/27th-september-2014

Today is one of those bone-chilling fall days where all I seek is a cup of stew and the warmth of a wood burning fire.

Lately, I've been trying to build some form of structure in my life. The main struggle is that it's hard to be alone when you live with other people except in the early morning. I'm going to try getting up extra early (0430) and accomplishing things that I have been forgetting to do (meditation, exercise, breakfast, cold showers, studying). If nothing comes out of my 4-week experiment and I am still unhappy, then I'll probably drop out and travel the world. Consistency should be key.

Sometimes I really do envy you for having a calm and peaceful place to be alone, it would make things much easier.

I wish you best luck with your experiment!

There was a time when I routinely spent almost an hour strecthing every night before going to bed. That was very good and made me feel better. Then I spent two weeks travelling and lost the routine on my trip. When I came back home, I said: "Well, tomorrow I'll continue with my routine of stretching." But that never happened - there was a tomorrow after another tomorrow, and every day I found some excuses why I don't have time to do the stretching today; but tomorrow, tomorow I will...

Well, but living alone in my own peace makes it far more easier for me to listen to my inner self and sort out these issues. When I can't blame anyone else, I really have to examine all the disorganisation I generate myself.

You are right - I believe that it would be healthy for people to have easy access for enough of private time and space. That would make it easier to devote oneself to what ever studying / excercise one chooses to go with.


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