Some like it hot, Part 5


Our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo has quite a few air conditioning / heating units, installed by our friend Ivo, the Bulgarian engineer who lives along the street from us, but we also wanted to have a woodburner in the sitting room. As well as giving us the usual warmth and the pretty flames, we felt that a woodburning stove would be a good idea because we would still be able to have some heating if there was a power cut. (In Kalotina, power cuts happen quite often and the electricity sometimes does not come on again for an hour or so.) This is why we went to the Prity factory a few years ago and bought our rather smart Prity woodburning stove.

There are, however, one or two little problems with woodburners. First of all, you need to connect the stove with the chimney flue. This meant a trip to Praktiker, to buy the metal tubes that go from the back of the stove to the round hole in the wall. I also bought a heat exchanger, as I thought that this might perhaps cool down the temperature of the smoke, so that there is less risk of a chimney fire. The real problem came with trying to put all the tubes together. This was a nightmare and I only managed to “persuade” the various bits of metal to fit together after cutting some of them with a hacksaw and bending the ends with a hammer. That all sounds quite barbaric, but it looked quite good when we finally put it together.

The second problem is that woodburners need lots of firewood. In theory, this should be an easy matter, as there are plenty of forests in Bulgaria and so no shortage of wood. Unfortunately, the cellar in the basement is just too damp for storing firewood, so yours truly had a great idea: store the firewood in the attic. With our new loft hatch and ladder, this was quite feasible, although it was hard work to carrying two cubic metres of firewood from the street to the loft.

No bank robbers, just a hole in the wall
Yesterday was supposed to be the great moment when we lit the stove for the first time and settled down to a warm evening by the stove, watching Julie and Julia for the fifth or sixth time. It was a disaster! The stove refused to light properly and then the room filled up with horrible smoke. As for the stove, smoke was coming out of the pipes in all the wrong places. Eventually we had to throw cupfulls of water into the stove to put it out. Our apartment now smells like we have been cooking kippers for a week. We opened the little door in the wall, next to the stove, and this was full of black muck that had obviously fallen down the chimney. It looks as though the flue is blocked and that was probably why the stove did not light properly. Ivo has given us the phone number of someone who can put the pipes together properly (Ivo was too polite to say that I had done it all the wrong way round) and clean the whole chimney.

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