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I must be in a self-deprecating mood, because much like my last post, this is not the most flattering example of my abilities as a homesteader. But, it’s a reminder to think twice, trust your intuition and to remember things aren’t as bad as they seem. It started on a Saturday morning… 

I’m somewhat obsessed with burning wood as well as the efficient operation of my stove. Despite what the EPA would lead you to believe, you can responsibly burn wood if you have a newer stove and use seasoned hardwood (but more on all that in a future post).

Anyway… I decided to clean our chimney on one of the unseasonably warm days we had this winter. I actually happen to enjoy cleaning the chimney, so I was in a good mood when all this got started. Probably whistling on my way out to the back yard with my brush over my shoulder.

This post is not about me falling off of our roof – thank God. Probably the only reason it’s not is because our chimney has a nifty little access door at ground level. I also have a very giant, screw-together pole which holds a chimney brush at one end.

I screwed everything together real tight except the last section. The threads were kind of rusty and it was a pig to fasten. While it was warmer out, it was still Wisconsin in January and the pole had been in the snow, so I internally said, “whatever, good enough, it’s got a few good turns on it.”

I ran it up and down a few times and was surprised at how clean the pipe was. Job well done, I thought. Then a thought that proved my downfall: “Maybe I should spin the brush on the way down.” This was immediately followed by the thought, “I had that tightening issue… with how tight the brush fits in the chimney, I might just unscrew the pole.”

How to remove a stuck chimney brush

I guess I really wanted to spin it though, because I rationalized that I had a 50-50 chance of spinning it in a direction that would be tightening the brush anyway. Well, as luck would have it, I unscrewed the brush in the chimney. A chill washed over me as I felt the tension drop off of the pole. Instead of cleaning the chimney, I’d now lodged a wired brush in it (near the top, no less) and probably turned a 10-minute job into an all-day fiasco that may even require calling a professional.

However, I recited my manta, “Joe you F—–g Moron, Joe you F—-g Moron,” took a few deep breaths and just pondered the situation for a moment. My first thought was to have Kate grab an umbrella and float up to the roof… but then I came back to reality. I went inside, grabbed a coat hanger, duct-taped it to the end of the pole, shoved it up passed the brush, and pulled the stuck chimney brush back to down to the ground. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Chimney cleaned. Potential disaster avoided.

So remember, always listen to that little voice that says, “this might be stupid.” I’ve learned to listen hard for it since we moved out here and it speaks up quite a bit. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing something is dumb and lazy (not screwing the brush on all the way), doing it anyway and then creating a bigger problem.

Secondly, when things do get messed up, stop everything you’re doing and just sit for a moment. As a hunter lost in the woods knows: “a clear head will find itself.” You’ll never right a poor decision by making a new one out of panic, anger or frustration. Just a little something to keep in mind. Happy Homesteading.