Many of the kiva fireplaces in Stam houses, though built to the standards of the 1950’s, have fallen into disrepair. The masonry work, including fireplace thickness, hearth thickness, and hearth extension measure, is not up to current codes.
By Justin Bailey
In February of 2011, due to an extreme weather event in Texas, which knocked out a power plant, pressure in the grid of natural gas lines dropped precipitously low, and somebody decided to cut off the natural gas supplies to Taos and Rio Arriba counties. Meanwhile in Northern New Mexico temperatures dropped to twenty below zero.
People who depended on natural gas for heat tried keeping warm with electricity. The electric grid quickly failed due to overload. With no internet, radio talk show hosts like Nancy Stapp and Paddy Mac stayed on the air around the clock providing crucial information. People listened to the radio in their cars with the heat turned up high. Plumbers drove around dealing with a deluge of frozen, broken pipes. Folks with kiva fireplaces kept them going 24/7. All over Taos, walls in homes adjoining these fireplaces caught on fire. Fire trucks drove screaming all over the place to put out the fires.
This went on for almost two weeks.
Those of us who own wood stoves, however, were warm in our homes. We heated water on our wood stoves to take a bath. We fried eggs on our wood stoves and made pots of soup and stew to distribute to our less fortunate neighbors. Our pipes didn’t freeze. Our homes didn’t catch fire.
Heating our homes with wood–a local, renewable source of energy–gives us a level of independence and self-reliance unknown to those who depend exclusively on the utility companies for energy.
I’m a chimney sweep; I install woodstoves, consult on wood heat, and clean, inspect and service chimneys of all types. My phone, of course was ringing off the hook during the gas outage.
My business, Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning & Repair, facilitates safe heating with wood. We are here to help you be prepared for events like the gas outage of 2011. Installing wood stoves is my favorite thing about work, because I get to help people free themselves from the bondage of dependence on the energy grid.
Heating with a modern, EPA approved wood stove, we can reduce our carbon footprint, keep our money in our communities, and protect ourselves from the failures and greed of politicians and energy executives. To those of us who live in rural areas in or near forests, it is obvious that the health of the forest depends on responsible thinning. This thinning provides us fuel for heat.
When we burn a piece of wood in our wood stove, it emits the same amount of carbon as if that piece of wood rotted on the ground or burned in a forest fire. Efficient wood stoves emit very little particulate matter because they are equipped with a re-burn chamber that burns the combustible gasses and particles in the smoke before it leaves the stove.
Everywhere we go, it seems, we hear about the need for green energy and green jobs. Heating with wood in an efficient wood stove is green energy, and the jobs of chimney sweeps and woodcutters are green jobs. We spend our money right here at home. Bailey’s Chimney C&R is a member of the Green Chamber of Commerce because we provide good green jobs and green services.
Why send your money to a utility company out of state when you can buy a cord of wood from a local father and husband who will turn around and spend that money here in the community, helping to provide more local jobs?