What Brings This Up?
Our wood stove is the specific incident that is prompting this particular incident. I've used wood stoves before, many times. In general, wood stoves are very simple devices. That in mind, I didn't bother asking any questions about quirks on the wood stove and I really wish I had. I would have avoided a rather cold few nights, and a bit of embarrassment.
It got cold particularly fast here this year, and while the house is well insulated my intention to not heat the house until November 1 was just not feasible. Given that we hadn't been able to schedule an oil delivery until today, we didn't want to risk using up the last of the oil, wood was the obvious choice. Getting the oil today would be a little late for the fact it was cold then. So I go to the wood stove, I lay a good small fire beginning with paper and some kindling, and then I start looking for the damper. Long story short half an hour later I call down our house mate who also has used wood stoves quite a lot and ask her to help. Almost an hour later, neither of us can find the damper control. We've looked all over, felt all over, looked outside, read the instruction manual even!
At this point we concluded there probably wasn't a damper, and decide to light the fire. It just won't draw, and smoke predictably fills the house. Ok, so there has to be a damper, but it's now 10 at night and we just can't find it. We then bundle up and go to bed given that it's now about 50 in the house. Not awful, but it would have been nice to be warmer. The next day I call the realtor who then calls the previous owner, and finds out something that we probably should have known when we moved in. There IS no damper for this wood stove. My next question was, how do we start it then! It turns out that due to one SNAFU and another, the insulation was too good to have a damper control in, so to start the wood stove when it's cold I have to go outside, remove the maintenance stopper, light a piece of paper in the chimney, then come in and light a fire. Annoying, but not a huge deal now that I know.
All of this is a long winded story to say, when you are buying the house ask the previous owner all of the basic questions, and then the ever important final question, "Is there anything else I should be asking?"
Image Copyright Michelle Vigeant 2011