FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION (FAQ's)
The fire smokes back into the room EVERY TIME I light it, why?
The chimney is most likely blocked by soot, masonry or birds nesting.
SOLUTION: Have it swept
The fire smokes back SOMETIMES, should a chimney cowl be fittedl?
Chimneys do smoke a little from time to time when the wind outside is strong and gusty but if smoke puffs back into the room when you shut a door then the problem is most likely caused by there not being enough ventilation in that room.
SOLUTION: Open a window slightly to let in some more air. If this stops the problem then poor ventilation is the cause. If the situation does not improve then you may need a anti-downdraught cowl fitted to chimney pot. Look here for details of the correct one.
Why does smoke come down a chimney in an adjoining room?
Nearly always because smoke coming out of one chimney pot is being drawn back down the one next to it on the chimney stack.
SOLUTION: A quick fix is to block up the unused chimney with a stuffer - this stops air (and smoke!) being drawn down the chimney into the room.
A permanent fix is to make the height of the chimney pots different - the one used for a coal fire should be higher by at least 18" than the other.
How often should a chimney need sweeping?
At least once per year. However, if the fire is lit every day or if much wood is burnt then the chimney should be swept every six months.
I have a gas fire - does the chimney still need sweeping ?
Yes, most definitely. Though gas fires do not create soot like a solid fuel fire, the lining of a masonry chimney does deteriorate over time. Pieces of this can fall down and block the flue, causing toxic gases to spill back into the room (Carbon Monoxide for one). I recommend they are swept at least every 3 years.
Birds such as starlings and pigeons coming down chimneys are becoming an increasing problem too
What is a stuffer?
A stuffer is my own invention!
Not really, it is merely a black polythene bin liner with crumpled newspaper inside. With just the right amount of paper inside to make it a tight fit into the chimney, it will 'stuff' any size flue and stop soot, rain, smells, birds(!!!), draughts and smoke from another chimney falling into the room.
When is the best time to get the job done ?
The best time to get the chimney swept is when the fire is not needed i.e.. during the summer months, June, July or August.
Please note - I get VERY busy in the 12 weeks before Christmas - it seems many people leave this job until the last minute! (click here to find out "live" how long you will have to wait to get the job done)
What preparations do I need to make?
Please clear away any ashes from the fire. Move away any hearth furniture or companion sets from around the fireplace. It is a good idea to lay an old dust sheet (not polythene - it's too slippery) or news papers in front of the hearth over your carpet.
To work on, I have a large PVC sheet, though on wet days it can get messy.
BUT MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL - please light a fire the day before the chimney is swept. This dries the soot so that I can brush it off more efficiently.
How dirty is the job likely to be ?
I take every care to do a good, clean job.
I seal my sheet to the fireplace with tape before sweeping the chimney and I use a large vacuum machine to take up all the soot.
What area does your service cover ?
I normally work within a radius of 20 miles of Grimsby (excluding the river and beyond!)
I only travel further than this by special arrangement.
What method do you use ?
I normally sweep the chimney with a suitably sized brush and then vacuum up the soot which falls down into the hearth behind the soot sheet.
If the chimney is having a gas fire fitted to it, I usually sweep it twice with different brushes and then clear any fallen debris before vacuuming up any fallen soot in the hearth. This combines traditional brush sweeping with a modern technique of clearing the soot.
I also carry out the power sweeping method using the latest equipment from RODTECH. Not all chimneys or flues are suitable to be power swept, but where appropriate I will use this system as first choice. Click here to find out more about power sweeping (opens new browser window).
What is the cost ?
It depends on the work to be done and where you are in the county.
Please click here to find the current price list.
For a more accurate estimate please phone or fill in the response form here.
Do you remove gas fires ?
I no longer carry out any gas fitting work.
It is recommended that gas fires venting into brick-built chimneys should be serviced at regular intervals and that the chimney should be brush swept every 3 years.
Although I do the sweeping part of this work, the gas fire removal and re-fitting must be carried out by a GAS-SAFE registered fitter. Look here for one.
How can I find out many chimneys I have in my house?
You could have as many as 12 - but more usually you should have between 1 and 4.
The easiest way to find out is to stand outside and count the chimney pots (or empty places where pots have been removed) on your side of the shared chimney stack(s) if a semi-detached or terraced house and/or the number of pots on stacks which are on your property only.
Just a few things that annoy me
I am a placid, easy going type of person. I wore a Kaftan in the 60's, grew my hair long and knew all the words to "Hare Krishna".
Not a lot upsets me even now - despite the onset of my supposed Victor Meldrew years.
As a chimney sweep though, there are just a few things that really get up my nose - besides the soot that is. So here they are in no particular order:-
The fire being lit or the fireplace being too hot to work with.
Yes, it does happen I am afraid - I get to a house and find a fire blazing merrily away where I am supposed to be cleaning the chimney! The owners are often totally bemused when I point out to them that it is not possible to sweep a chimney which is in use.
Also, if the ashes from a fire are not removed it can still be too hot to handle for hours after.
"Mr Sheen" (spit), "Sparkle" (spit spit) or any other awful silicone spray polishes.
When sprayed onto a fireplace they leave a film to which nothing will stick - not even the tape I use to seal my soot sheet to the tiles or surround!!! In the 40+ years I have been a sweep, I must have spent many hours trying to remove the stuff just so that I can get my masking tape to stick to the fireplace. Bahh!!!
People not being home when I call.
Is there is anything more annoying than waiting in all day for a workman who does not turn up for a pre-arranged appointment?
Perhaps not - but being the workman who turns up on time to find there is no one at home comes close. I do expect my customers to let me know if they are not able to keep an appointment - I always make certain that they know in the event that I cannot turn up through illness or vehicle breakdown. It is just common decency after all to pick up the phone and put them in the picture.
This is beginning to look like a long list - I had better stop right now!
What is the best wood to burn?
From an old rhyme comes this very complete answer -
"Beech-wood burns both bright and clear - If the logs are kept a year
Store your beech for Christmastide with new-cut holly laid beside.
Chestnut's only good, they say, if for years 'tis stored away.
Birch and firwood burn too fast, blaze too bright and do not last.
Flames from larch will shoot up high, dangerously the sparks will fly!
But ash-wood green and ash-wood brown are fit for a queen with a golden crown.
Oaken logs, if dry and old, keep away the winter's cold
Poplar gives a bitter smoke, fills your eyes and makes you choke
Elm-wood burns like churchyard mold - E'en the very flames are cold.
Hawthorn makes the sweetest bread - so it is in Ireland said.
Apple-wood will scent the room, pear-wood smells like flowers in bloom.
But ash-wood wet and ash-wood dry - a king may warm his slippers by!"
So, if you have a choice, get Ash!
Do you have replacement fire parts for sale?
Yes, I have a few items available, fire stools, fire bricks and such.
I want to install a new fireplace - how?
I have a very helpful DVD, FREE to customers, which should help you decide if you can do the job yourself!
I want to install a multifuel or woodburning stove - how?
Ahh, yes the wonderful trendy free-standing stove revolution.
Great idea - modern multifuel stoves are generally very efficient and a more "green" option than ordinary fires.
Just a couple of important points to check when a stove is fitted.
First go to my latest update page Beware Builders!
If you are NOT having a liner installed with the stove, please make sure that proper sweeping access to the existing chimney is maintained or created. If the stove is being installed by professionals please ask them to show you that it will be possible to get a full size brush into the main chimney. The minimum size of access should be 6" diameter but ideally should be 9" square.
You can find a good installer here.
If you are in any doubt about the size and positioning of such an access point please contact me.
If you are going to burn logs make sure that they are seasoned - burning wood which contains a lot of sap or water is going to mess up the chimney and cause problems with the operation of the stove.
And last of all please, please DO NOT BURN ORDINARY HOUSE COAL on these stoves - it does them harm in the long term.
If you want to burn solid fuel, other than seasoned wood, I recommend you try WILDFIRE. This does cost a little more than coal but it is much better suited to burning on multifuel stoves. I use it myself as an alternative to wood when I want the stove to stay in overnight. All coal merchants should stock it.
October to Christmas is the busiest time of the year.