Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm Awake

Tonight our quadrafire pellet stove malfunctioned and the ash box ignited. From the pattern of pellets in the ash box, my best guess is that the cleaning rod at the bottom of the crucible jammed partly open, causing the stove to attempt to light pellets, and feed pellets, continuously into the crucible. Smoldering pellets fell into the ashbox, and eventually there was way more fire in the stove than the stove could handle.

Eventually the whole house would have filled with smoke. I suppose the consequences of that could have been pretty devastating.

But it was okay because both of our smoke alarms have working batteries. I woke up and ran downstairs, took about a minute to assess the problem, followed my instincts or inspiration and got the stove to stop fanning the flames, got Chris up to help me, he opened the basement doors, and using my two best oven mitts, I got the ashbox out the garage doors and tossed the whole thing in the snow. Even with the oven mitts, that thing was hot.

Then I went back inside closed all the doors against the billowing smoke, and going back around out the front door, grabbed a shovel and piled snow on the smoking ash box. We're probably going to need a new ash box.

At this point the whole house still stinks of smoke and that acrid burning plastic smell. I think that's the exterior trim on the stove.

The front door is wide open, the back door wide open, some of the windows wide open.

Here's what I learned: the kids can sleep right through the blaring smoke alarms. I won't stay out past their bedtime without an adult babysitter who is going to stay up.

For years I've worried that in the event of a fire I wouldn't be able to wake my deep sleeping husband. Turns out he wakes right up the moment I say softly to him, in a certain tone of voice, "I need your help." Maybe that's the Spirit. Maybe that's 15 years of marriage. Probably a combination of both. All I know is I've hollared at him when a sick little boy was puking all over the place and he woke not knowing his own name.

Ugh. The smell is awful. I wonder if I should get out fans. It's been an hour now and I definitely want to go to sleep. Think I will go check the perimeter, the ash box, and if everything looks okay, start closing windows and doors and head back to bed.


kittygeorge said...

Wow what a close call. Glad everything turned out ok.

The Queen said...

Yes, the fellow who came out Friday to look at it says that it was partly that the bottom pan cleaning rod was jammed partly open AND there may have been addition air to the ashbox because the ashbox gaskets were toast AND the quality of wood pellets this year is terrible, causing build up and a tendency to burn fast. He cleaned the rod thoroughly so it would spring back into place like it's supposed to and ordered the gasket. We're on electric heat till it comes in. Then there's nothing to do but order more pellets for the winter (we're almost out of the amount that usually lasts the winter) and do a big cleaning of the interior once a day instead of once a week. Bleah. Makes me wish for a regular wood stove.