As I mentioned before, one of the best parts of the house I am renting is the wood stove in the basement. My roommate (who is also the owner of the house) and I use it daily though its usage should be tapering off as warmer weather approaches. To keep the stove safe and useable it's important to clean the flue and chimney to keep them free from creosote build-up. Creosote is extremely combustible and is the main danger in operating a wood stove. Nobody want's a chimney fire.
So, yesterday I took the flue apart and it was completely loaded with creosote. Each vertical pipe section and elbow had about a 1/4” to 3/8” of creosote caked on the inside. I used a wide flat-blade screwdriver and wire brush to scrape it out into the fire pit. I then pulled the horizontal run of the flue out of the wall and it was even worse, so I took that outside and gave it what-for. Lastly, I took a flash light and peaked inside where the horizontal run meets the actual chimney and found the mother load. Large chunks the size of small cereal boxes were just hanging out in there. I knocked them loose with my hand and pulled them out of the base of the chimney through an access door on the outside of the house. I lined the stove pipes up, screwed them back in place and attached them to the stove. While I was at it, I shoveled the ash out of the belly of the stove. So she's tip-top now.
Cleaning the stove made a huge difference. We started it up last night and instead of the usual billow of smoke that would pour out when loading wood and lighting the fire; the smoke was drawn straight up the flue and out the chimney. That creosote build-up was really blocking the intended draft flow of the stove.