Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Fire places may be pretty to look at, but they aren’t very efficient when it comes to heating a home. Unless they are set up properly most of the heat goes right up the chimney, and they burn wood by the cord. When I moved into this house, almost 34 years ago, there were 2 fireplaces. They were all metal, including the flu which was painted to look like a brick chimney, so there was little fire danger; but the design of the fireplace was about as bad as it gets. The back and sides were, and still are, straight up; so about 90 percent of the heat went up the chimney instead of into the house where it was needed. The first thing I did was block off both fireplaces with sheet metal and install woodstoves on the hearth of each with the flu running into the fireplace through a hole in the sheet metal. 34 years later I still have the same setup. Woodstoves have fireplaces beat hands down when it comes to putting out heat. One stove is in the dining room/kitchen area where I spend most of my time, and the other is in the living room. The stove in the living room is actually rarely used, except during prolonged power outages that occur during the winter.

This morning after breakfast I was relaxing with a final cup of coffee when I heard noises coming from inside the fireplace in the living room. Uh oh, it’s that time of year again! I knew exactly what it was, because I go through the same thing at least once almost every spring. There was a bird trapped in the fireplace. Apparently the birds are looking for a suitable place to build a nest, and they manage to fall down the flu. They end up trapped in the fireplace behind the woodstove where they can‘t get out or back up the flu.. It is almost always the fireplace in the living room because there is no fire in that stove, and therefore no smoke coming out the flu.

There were a couple of times, years ago, when I went through the process of moving the woodstove away from the fireplace to get the bird out. That stove weighs 325 pounds, and it didn’t take but a couple of times until I tried something different! The solution is simple. I open the door of the stove and put a trouble light inside the stove, aimed toward the flu where it passes through the metal plate and into the fireplace. Sit back and await results. Usually within a few minutes the bird is attracted to the light, makes its way from the fireplace into the woodstove, and then out the open door and into the room. I’m left with a badly frightened bird, flying madly around the living room trying frantically to find a way out. I open a door or window and the bird makes its escape. This time it was a European Starling as it almost always is. I wonder what it is about that chimney flu that is so attractive to them?

No comments: