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Life & Events > Boring > Secret Thing in the Fireplace

Secret Thing in the Fireplace

The chill inside the house won’t seem to leave. I guess if I bestirred myself to go light a fire in the back room it would help.

Until about a week ago I did not know what the ash-dump in the fireplace was called, just that it was a surprising door in the floor of the fireplace that perhaps led to another dimension and I could push the dead ashes in there. I had to find out what it was called because the little cover door fell in — just vanished, poof, falling into what I picture as a vast cave under the house where the ashes of fires from the last 80 years have collected. There could be an ancient Indian graveyard down there, or Aladdin’s cave or Saddam’s spiderhole. The little door must have rusted through its hinges, and now only the outer frame is left and an opening in the fireplace floor. Looks like it may be difficult to find a replacement that’s not expensive. For now I just put a flattened aluminum pie plate over the opening before setting up a fire.

Yesterday my friend M started talking about various military aircraft; we probably got on this subject because of Trump — and his criticisms of Boeing. He talked all about the A-10 Thunderbird, which is apparently one of John McCain’s favorite planes — after hearing about this one I understand why he might be very appreciative of it. It’s a big, heavy gun-and-missile laden thing that doesn’t do sky battles; its purpose is to support and defend the men on the ground. It's mighty, that’s the only word I can think of. And it can keep flying and shooting even if it’s lost one wing, one engine, one elevator… in fact I think one or more may have returned from a mission in that shape. The A-10s are still in service. Pretty old, though: used in Vietnam and ever since.

I also heard about the old B-52 bomber, which is incredibly old and has been returned to service after an upgrade. It’s not scheduled to be retired for another 30 or 40 years, when it will be approaching 100 years old.

There was more stuff... about the F-35 aircraft (the ones Trump says we can do without), the F-18 (that Trump says the military should take instead and be glad about, although 2/3 of them are now grounded and can’t fly) and the EM Drive which breaks the laws of physics as we know them. But I found it all very interesting.

posted on Feb 15, 2017 5:11 PM ()


A little metal door is what you're looking for. In my basement it's only about a foot off the concrete floor. But no matter. It would take ash from thousands of fires to get the ash up to the level of the bottom of the fireplace.
comment by jjoohhnn on Feb 16, 2017 10:52 AM ()
If the pie plates keep melting, maybe you could try a thin piece of flagstone. My thingy like that is a sort of metal flap that doesn't close up very well and I pictured the hot coals falling down in there (ours isn't very big, and the cleanout door is on the outside of the chimney, easy to get to from the side yard. So now we have a piece of steel that we can put across the gap if I get too concerned about it.
comment by troutbend on Feb 15, 2017 6:30 PM ()
A piece of rock is an idea. I will need something, since I've discovered any ashes I sweep down there will stay there forever. Maybe I should only use it sometimes.
reply by drmaus on Feb 16, 2017 9:05 AM ()
There should be a clean out in the basement at the base of the fireplace support (stone). My house has the same setup, but that feature is no longer available with the fireplace insert. But the insert is so much more efficient that it's worth the trade of a little convenience.
comment by jjoohhnn on Feb 15, 2017 5:44 PM ()
Wow, I never even thought to look for a cleanout trap. But it's a good thing I haven't lit that many fires over the years and swept it into the ashdump, because in the basement the cleanout is inaccessible. There's a brick wall that goes up to my neck blocking access to that area. Or if it's one of the tiny metal doors on the wall nearby, those have been painted shut over and over again and can't be opened. But I think it's behind the wall.
reply by drmaus on Feb 16, 2017 9:03 AM ()

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