How to Light a Fire

Author Archives: lisa

Everyone knows how to light a fire, right?

Getting Set to Light a Fire! Everyone knows how to light a fire, right? No, wait.  Do read this.  I know everyone knows how to light a fire, but trust me, there is a better way. Traditionally, what does everyone do to light a fire?  You put some paper down, you put some twigs on that, some bits and bobs on top of that, logs on the to, and then you light the paper.  My grandmother used to add excitement to the mix, by pouring paraffin all over it before lighting it.  Believe me, lighting the fire was an event when I was young.  I often had a grandmother with no eyebrows, but that’s by the way. Now all that is pretty normal (if you deduct the paraffin) but it really is not the safest, best or the easiest way to light a fire.  For starters, paper is filthy stuff.  When it is made, they incorporate clay into the mix and when it burns, it forms great mineralised flakes of ash that block the flow of air through the fire bed and poor air flow can bring the process to a halt.  Fashion magazines and other glossy paper is the … Continue reading

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Let’s Talk Stove Installation!

So, let’s talk stove installation! This may seem like a strange thing to say and do in summer time, even though the rain has been relentless and it feels more like Spring. However, this is the ideal time of year to think about having a stove installation, so that if you decide you would like a stove as part of your home improvements, it is possible to have the stove installation carried out before burning season starts again and start reaping the rewards on fuel savings and heating your home efficiently when you need it most. Accounting for the time it takes to shop around for a stove, obtain estimates, establish your budget, decide on the make and model that’s best suitable for your home, preferred fuel type and what you’re looking to achieve with a stove installation along with then booking and confirming your stove installation and requirements, can take some time. Here we are aiming to give you a quick summary about stoves and a stove installation to help you if you are thinking about it or undecided. Well, to have a wood-burning stove installation in your house is the new ‘must have’, and not just from chasing … Continue reading

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Could you Need a New Chimney Liner?

You may already have a chimney liner but how can you tell if you may need a new chimney liner? The most simplistic answer is that if your house was built before 1965, and you wish to use it for anything more than an open fire, then the odds are very good that you do in fact need a chimney liner. Older chimneys do degrade with time, with some degradation resulting in blocked chimneys. The simplest way of dealing with your concerns is to call out a certified chimney sweep to clean the chimney and advise you.  A competent chimney sweep, who is HETAS registered will have the knowledge base needed to advise you properly, and sweeping the chimney will enable him to tell you what state it is in as well as the chimney liner.  He will be able to tell you if you need a new chimney liner and advise on the most suitable liner.. There are a number of different types of relining systems on the market. All are different, and not all will suit your chimney. The sectional chimney liner is made from terracotta, ceramics or pumice (the best) however, these require a lot of space … Continue reading

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Creosote and tar build up

CREOSOTE AND TAR BUILD UP! Are you at risk of a chimney fire? Is your chimney safe? Chimney fires occur when there is fuel in your chimney to feed it.  By fuel, we mean creosote and tar which can accumulate in all types of chimneys – masonry, or metal, where wood burning appliances are vented. Creosote and tar are combustible and if it is set afire the resulting chimney fire is extremely hot, in some cases reaching over 1,000 degrees Celsius.  A chimney fire can melt through even a well-built safe chimney, setting the building on fire. What causes creosote and tar build up? -The temperatures in the chimney or flue -Level of usage -The wood-sap content of the wood being burned. -Moisture content of the wood being burned. -The wood species (or to a smaller degree the type of coal or peat) being burned. -The chimney size, height, location, and construction materials serving the heating appliance. -Adequacy of combustion air supply -Anything else that affects chimney draft. -The frequency of chimney cleaning and the thickness of existing creosote and tar deposits.   What are the dangers of a chimney fire? A chimney fire could quickly spread and destroy your … Continue reading

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Benefits of a stove compared to an open fireplace

Benefits of a stove compared to an open fireplace  Ever wondered what the benefits of a stove are compared to an open fireplace? Here we outline some facts and figures of the benefits of installing a stove in comparison to retaining an open fireplace. If you’re trying to decide on whether a stove or open fireplace is better, the first step is to decide on what you really want from your fireplace.  Are you looking to heat the room? Maybe heat your entire home?  Are you looking to decrease fuel bills? Or maybe you want some independence from using electricity or gas?  Or maybe you have fond memories of roaring fireplaces from your childhood.  Once you’ve decided on what you want from your fireplace you can then identify whether a stove or open fireplace is more appropriate. So, back to basics quickly.  An open fireplace is typically the square recess where you build the fire.  You may have a certain surround around it, whether that’s stone, cast iron, wood or any other material but it is still an open fireplace nonetheless.  An open fireplace won’t have a door at the front, but, as the name suggests will be completely open … Continue reading

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Certified Chimney Sweep

So, why should you only ever use a certified chimney sweep? Well, it may seem obvious to say that a competent chimney sweep will do the job well, but there is more to it than that. You may not realise it, but there is absolutely no requirement for a chimney sweep to be competent or to be a certified certified chimney sweep. Now, would you want a non-trained or non-qualified ‘mechanic’ to fix your car or carry out the annual MOT and service and risk your car being unroadworthy? Thought not! So, why would you enlist a non-qualified chimney sweep to carry out your annual chimney sweep and potentially result in your home insurance being nul and void and worse still, risk the safety of your home and family? Until comparatively recently, there wasn’t even a nationally recognised qualification for chimney sweeps, and it wasn’t until we as a firm took control of the situation and created one. Our first step was to create the City & Guilds qualification, and after that, we were asked by the government body who were looking at creating an NVQ in chimney sweeping to help them in setting up that qualification too. Eventually we … Continue reading

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Is your chimney leaking smoke into your home?

Is your chimney leaking smoke into your home? Did you know that chimneys in the CB1 and CB4 area tend to have the worst deterioration rate within a 25-mile radius of Cambridge? Chimneys over time disintegrate and can cause smoke to leak into your home, typically into bedrooms which is downright dangerous. Our 35 years’ experience maintaining chimneys within this area has enabled us to see first-hand local chimney trends and we’ve found in recent years that the deterioration of chimneys in the CB1 and CB4 area is much worse than other areas. Why do chimneys deteriorate? The soot, tar and creosote produced from burning wood or coal has acid in it.  This acid attacks the cement which hold the bricks together in the chimney stack and over time the cement disintegrates.  This leaves hundreds, if not thousands, of miniscule holes up and down your chimney.  If you look at the diagram, you can see that the partition wall in between the two flues is at most risk because it is being attacked on both sides by acid erosion.  This is why the inside of your chimney can be in poor condition while the outside is in good condition. Why is … Continue reading

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Chimney and fireplace checks

Spring into action with these chimney and fireplace checks! Spring is finally upon us and although it’s been a mild winter, it’s great to see the daffodils spring to life (having had site of them over the winter months) and now the days are getting longer. Many of us will be coming out of our own winter hibernation, putting our fires out, dusting off our lawn mowers and turning our attentions to the garden or embarking on some home improvements in a quest to create our own ‘Grand Design’ having spent the winter months watching ‘George’s Amazing Spaces’ and ‘Restoration Man’! Before you forget about your chimney and fireplace for another season, just remember to carry out the following Spring chimney and fireplace checks so that come next Autumn and winter, your chimney and fireplace will be in top good working order and safe to use again: Keep an eye out for birds nesting in your chimney- Our feathered friends like nesting in our chimneys and can cause blockages which could result in a chimney fire Store any remaining fuel in a dry place  – Burning damp fuel is the main cause of soot and tar build up Inspect your … Continue reading

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What things fall down the chimney?

Have you ever wondered what things are that fall down the chimney? Things that go bump in the night – or day for that matter.  This article is all about what things can fall down the chimney, and why. Now the things that fall down the chimney can vary from the worrying to the horrific, and it helps to know what causes things to fall down the chimney.  So if you have had any problems with things that fall down the chimney, you have come to the right place. We will start with the Victorian chimneys and the things that go bump in the night!  I joke, but it can be very worrying to people who find lumps of mortar that fall down the chimney, as well as the odd brick.  Victorian chimneys shed like a dog, and this is down to the acidic flue gasses eating away at the cement mortar – they used both to construct their chimneys and line them.  (See our previous article on the subject).  Most usually, this shedding is in the form of a steady rain of grit and sand that is almost unnoticed, but sometimes the liner can blister, and then there is the … Continue reading

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The common problems with a chimney and its liner – Part 7

The common problems with a chimney and its liner – Part 7 Retro fitting! This is a continuation and final installment of a 7-part article on chimneys and their liner – giving a brief history of chimneys, their liners and the associated problems that can arise from them.  If you have any queries on your chimney or liner or should you wish to know more about any of these issues, get in contact with your certified chimney sweep, who will be delighted to advise you on this topic. In this final part we look at the retro fitting of a liner and the relining of older flues that really aren’t up to the job of serving a modern stove.  I say stove, because the relining of a flue is an expensive process when talking of a 6” diameter flue as needed by a stove.  You can line for an open fire, as long as it is a small one.  There are sectional rigid liners and you probably can get them for a large open fire, but the cost will be significantly higher as soon as you go over the 10” diameter liner.  Plus, a fireplace of any size, when served … Continue reading

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