I may have mentioned that I have a wood burning stove. Oh look at that, I did. Well as it turns out sometimes you have to clean those buggers out. I don’t just mean emptying the ashes from under the grate here either. I mean dismantle that sucker, clean off all the built up crap, and then somehow put it all back together.
Sounds kind of intimidating doesn’t it? Well worry not dearest reader, I’m here with a step-by-step guide based on my own experiences. Enjoy.
1: Wake up, stare bleary eyed at the ceiling for twenty minutes wondering if you are really awake, or if this is in fact another one of those weird dreams where you’re waking up, only to wake up with a start a few minutes into it wondering what the hell is up with your subconscious.
2: Realise that, yes, you are in fact awake. Get up, pee, miss the toilet bowl, get dressed, mop the bathroom floor. Go downstairs.
3: Walk into the living room intent on going through to the kitchen for some yummy fake Cocoa Pops. Five minutes later realise that you’ve been staring at the stove which only yesterday simply refused to light.
4: Get very, very pissed off.
5: Get your toolkit, and stand in front of the stove.
6: Pick up a flashlight and rap it sharply on the metal part of the door.
7: Quote Liam Neeson in Taken to make sure that the soot is truly aware of what’s about to happen. Of course it’s going to be a little confused by why you’re coming after it to get your daughter back, when the soot had her shipped off to a petting zoo for rich anthropomorphic panda’s the previous week. But it’ll still set the tone nicely.
8: Open it’s door.
9: Stick your flashlight, and head in to find the various nuts you’ll need to remove.
10: Sneeze. Remember to cover your nose, and mouth with your hands when your sneeze. No need to cover the dogs in snot after all.
11: Spend 10 minutes cleaning last nights ashes out of your eyes.
12: Clean out the remains of last nights ashes.
13: Try again.
14: Remove the side plates.
15: Using a vice-grips, because you don’t own even a single spanner, removed the nuts holding on the back plate.
16: Remove the back plate.
17: Swear loudly as the top plate lands hard on your fingers,
18: Gag when you get a mouthful of foul-tasting ash, and soot after trying to suck on your aching fingers.
19: Take out the top, and back plates.
20: Unbolt the plate covering the upper air vent.
21: Look proudly at the pile of parts.
22: Swear loudly when you see the huge pile of soot, and ash that is now covering every inch of your sitting room floor.
23: Use a stiff brush to removed most of the soot clinging to inner walls of the stove.
24: Deal with the disappointment of realising you’ll never get it all. I recommend a six week course of intensive therapy with a qualified psychologist at exorbitant hourly rates. OCD is a cruel Mistress.
25: See what’s inside the opening to the flue for the first time. Nearly die of fright.
26: Have a stiff double whiskey.
27: Use your brand new vacuum cleaner to clean up all the soot which has already made its way into the room, as well that which has filled up the space created by your having earlier cleaned out the ashes. After all it’s all going to be downhill from here, the worst is behind us.
28: Stick the vacuum cleaner nozzle into the flue, and get as much of the loose soot build up as you can.
29: Stick you hand up the flue.
30: Panic when you can’t get it back out.
31: Wonder how that guy who cut his hand off with a blunt swiss army knife felt.
32: Let go of the the handful of soot you were holding, and sigh with relief as your hand easily slides back out.
33: Realise you’ve let yourself in for a bigger job than you thought, one which you do not own the right tools for.
34: Go to the DIY store to buy a flue brush. Yes, they do exist.
35: Wonder why everyone is looking at you weirdly.
36: Get home, and using the newly acquired brush vigorously clean out the flue.
37: Sneeze, and swear as the living room gets covered once more in a not so fine layer of soot. Remember to cover your nose, and mouth with your hands when your sneeze. There’s still no need to be covering the dogs in snot after all.
38: Wrap the brush head in a plastic bag, and put in the shed.
39: Leave a thick trail of soot, and ash between the living room, and the backyard on both the way out, and back in.
40: Using the vacuum cleaner, clean up the living room.
41: In what you think is the reverse order you used to dismantle the burner, remantle it. (I know it’s not a real word, but I like it, so there!)
42: Try this three times.
43: Realise you’re doing it wrong.
44: Do it right.
45: Cross-thread two out of 4 nuts.
46: Replace these nuts with another trip to the DIY store. Again wonder why everyone is looking at your funny.
47: Clean up. This should include, but not be limited to, the sooty paw prints both dogs have left on the television, the walls, the curtains, the staircase carpet, the sofa, each other, AND somehow the inside of the fridge.
48: Light a fire.
49: Bask in its warming glow.
50: Look up at the mirror above the fireplace for the first time all day, and realise that you’ve somehow managed to cover your face with a mixture of mucus, soot, and ash.
51: Try to decide whether it’s awesome, or awful that you look like this…
52: Be told by your Miss that you look really cute when you’re all tomboyish, and mucky.
And there you have it. 53 steps to a clean wood burning stove.