Cleaning Out the Woodstove

Winter afternoons can be beautiful in the Cariboo. The temperature rises and it’s wonderful being outside in the sun.


How to Clean out Your Woodstove


But once the sun dips down, it cools off fast and it’s nice to come in to a nice warm fire. Since we use our woodstove steadily throughout late fall and all winter, we need to make sure we clean out the ashes on a regular basis.


Clean the woodstove regularly



When it’s time to clean out the stove, I start the night before. Instead of banking the stove before going to bed we just leave it alone. In the morning, the fire will be out and I can go ahead and clean it out.

We always use a METAL bucket for the ashes. Safety first! It’s handy to use a bucket that is wide enough to fit a metal dustpan right down to the bottom. I find a dustpan works really easy to scrape out all the ashes. If your bucket isn’t wide enough, you will end up with a lot of ash and soot going up in the air. Then you will have to give everything a good dusting!



Heating with a Woodstove



These little “log holders” just lift right out when it is time to clean the stovebox. Now that the box is cleaned, I have one more thing to do.



Cleaning out the Woodstove



Under the stovebox is a door. Open that up and you can see the ash pan. You likely have something similar on your stove. Make sure to get this cleaned out too. The ashes fall thru the vents in the floor of the woodbox and land in this pan.



Cleaning out the Lower Ash Pan



Here’s that ash pan filled right to the top with more ash. After I pull the pan out, I use a long piece of kindling to scrape out whatever ash is  left in the compartment. Once the woodstove is cleaned out, I take the bucket and the ashpan IMMEDIATELY outside. These both need to be dealt with right away as there is always a chance of live embers.

Many house fires (and I don’t mean the ones that keep you warm,I mean the ones that BURN DOWN your house) have been started by someone neglecting to deal with the woodstove ashes right away. The temptation is to just set them right outside the back door and get back inside where it’s warm. But if there are still ashes smoldering in there, they can continue to smolder for hours, possibly catch fire and burn your house down.

When there is snow on the ground now, I use the ashes to make shovelled pathways less slippery. In Spring and Fall, we always spread the ashes on garden bushes that benefit from them! Asparagus and berries love ashes.



Heating with Wood




The job is all done, and I can relight the stove. Time for coffee!




How Much Wood Can Annie Chuck?

How Much Wood Can Annie Chuck, if Annie Could Chuck Wood?


Well, I can and I did.



When we moved here in 2006, there was a small woodroom already here on the far side of the driveway, used by the previous owners. We enlarged it to about double the size. We have found that in a very cold winter here, we use just over half of the total wood stored here. The room holds about 6 cords, so that  means we use around 3 cords or so. We use a wood splitter, which really makes quick work of getting the room full. We still say it was the best $300 we have spent for our homestead work!

We only use electric heat when the weather gets really cold here, about -20C. That is when we turn on a few heaters down in the basement, to keep water lines from freezing. Aside from that, we heat solely with wood. It’s a wonderful warm heat and it’s free to us as there is so much wood in the forests here.

Each year we like to fill the woodroom completely, so that we are assured of having two Winters worth of wood. This gives us some peace of mind, in case something should happen and we can’t get out to gather wood. The very first Winter we were here, Graham hurt his back, which put him out of commission for a couple of months.

As soon as he started feeling better, I slipped on some ice (where was I going? To get firewood from the wood room!) and badly sprained my arm. We quickly learned that things can go wrong and we are better off being more prepared in the first place!



We still have to go across the driveway to get wood for the stove. One day we want to build a wood room closer to the house. But for now, Graham built a rack in our mud room. Now we can fill that up all at one time, instead of going across the driveway every single day. It takes about 10 wheelbarrows full of wood to fill our mud room.




He took the back porch railing off, so we don’t have to climb the stairs with each load.




We just chuck it in the door instead!  Then I scamper over the pile and start stacking.



Filling up the two rows in our mudroom gives us enough wood for 2 weeks in very cold weather. That’s a good thing.



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