Diagnosing chimney problems – call a certified chimney sweep!

Diagnosing chimney problems…Siphonage One of the big problems with diagnosing chimney problems is that some problems mimic others, and if you rely on certain sources for your diagnosis and information, you may end up paying for an unnecessary and expensive solution that won’t even begin to address the problem.  Siphonage is a classic example. Normally speaking, the course of events is like this… Someone smells smoke in a room that has an appliance like an open fire, when there is no fire in the hearth.  Usually, this is due to the chimney being of Victorian construction, where its cement mortar lining has become corroded and pierced, leading to smoke passing from the flue serving the fire into an adjacent, cold flue where the smoke falls down the flue and into another room.  Do please follow this link to our article on the subject. Serious cases require relining, but if the problem isn’t that, then you will be badly out of pocket if the chimney is relined and the problem persists. The first step is to call in a certified chimney sweep.  I say certified, because such a chimney sweep will belong to the Guild of Master Sweeps.  This means they … Continue reading

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Chimney Safety – Do you smell smoke in the bedroom ever?

Chimney safety. So what does is mean if you can smell smoke in the bedroom? Chimney safety.  Most people no more think of checking for chimney safety than they check to see if the pantry is infested with ostriches, and yet chimney safety is important.  There is of course a need to run ones eye over the stack from time to time, just to make sure the pot isn’t starting to lean over at an interesting angle, or that the cowl is about to fall off, but there are other slightly less obvious things that one does need to be aware of. Do you smell smoke in the bedroom ever? The smell of smoke in the bedroom could well be a warning that there is a slight structural problem in the chimney liner and a hole has developed between the flue from the downstairs appliance and the flue that serves the bedroom.  This is something that will only get worse with time and it does need to be addressed, as where there is smoke, there are fumes, and where there are fumes, there is carbon monoxide.  The last thing that you want is the deteriorating chimney liner to allow fumes … Continue reading

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Fuels for open fireplaces

Fuels for open fireplaces – What’s Best? There are a number of different fuels for open fireplaces.  In its simplest form you have the choice between wood and coal.  However there are a number of varieties of fuels for open fireplaces, each as well as the option of using them on their own or mixed together starts to complicate the decision. As well as the different types of fuels for open fireplaces that are available, you’ll also need to take into consideration the type of liner you have and whether or not you reside in a smoke control zone. Let’s look at of wood and coal in a bit more detail… When burning wood you have the option of kiln dried, seasoned or unseasoned wood. Kiln dried wood is the best fuels for open fireplaces that you can burn, it has been dried in a kiln and has a moisture content of between 10% and 20%.  The drying process enables the cells in the wood to dry out thoroughly so that one log of kiln dried wood is 3 times more effective than an unseasoned log.  Another benefit of using kiln dried wood in an open fireplace is that it … Continue reading

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Best Fuel for your Stoves

Best Fuel for your Stoves Best fuel for your stoves is a question we are often asked. If you’re wondering what the best fuel for your stoves is, I’m afraid the answer isn’t a one liner – pardon the pun. Here we outline different fuel types, their benefits, issues and what the recommended best fuel for your stoves should be. Like with all chimney related options, it really depends on what you currently have and what you want the end result to be. Let’s start with what you currently have.  By this I mean what do you have in your chimney.  Is it lined? If so, what liner is it?  Is your stove a multi fuel stove or a wood only stove? The most popular lining material for stoves is stainless steel.  There are two types of grade; 316 and 904.  The difference between the two is that a grade 316 liner cannot burn smokeless coal and has a warranty of 10 years.  The grade 904 liner can burn smokeless coal and has a warranty of 20 years.  House coal and wood can be burnt on either grade.  The reason smokeless coal can’t be burnt on grade 316 liner is that it … Continue reading

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Fuel for Stoves and Open Fires

Fuel for stoves and open fires When considering what fuel for stoves and open fires, please keep in mind that it’s not as simple as it first appears.  You would be forgiven for thinking that it just simply boils down to whether you should burn wood or coal.  However, bear in mind that Fire and Rescue Services state that burning wet and unseasoned wood is one of the top causes of chimney fires, second only to infrequent chimney cleaning. Not only does your choice in fuel affect the risk of chimney fires in your home but in some cases picking the wrong fuel can actually damage your chimney liner – requiring replacement typically within as little as 5 years.  Not the 20-30 years that your chimney liner should be lasting you. So, let’s get into the few details you need to be aware of when picking solid fuel for stoves and open fireplaces. Choosing the right fuel: If you live in a smoke controlled zone you will need smokeless coal.  To check if you do live in one of these areas then your best bet is contacting your local council. If you don’t live in a smoke controlled zone, the … Continue reading

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Burn only suitable fuels for optimum results

One of the solid fuel appliance mantras is, burn only suitable fuels, and it bears repeating. Buy decent quality fuels, whether firewood, smokeless coal, house coal or other solid fuels. This is the same for open fireplaces and stoves. If you are burning firewood, this comes in many forms, logs, which should be seasoned wood, or better yet seasoned hard wood, kiln dried wood or kiln dried hardwood. The emphasis here is on dryness. If you burn wet or freshly cut green wood, the moisture content will be very high. This water will rob a great amount of heat from your wood as it burns, to an extent that you may find unbelievable. It’s easy to check just how wet it is and what that signifies. Take a clean log from outside, and weigh it, and then place it near to the fire to dry. Do this intelligently, please. Firewood left too near the fire can actually ignite, and should it do so, that could be disastrous. Weigh it again in a week, and keep doing that until it stops losing weight. Get a saucepan and weigh out the same amount as the log has lost. Then put that onto … Continue reading

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You can save money on your annual fuel bill!

You can save money on your annual fuel bill, giving you more cash in your pocket to spend on the things you want! In these days of financial crisis, everyone’s mind turns sooner or later to how you can save money on your annual fuel bill. Well, the good news is that if fuel saving is your desire, we are here to say how your desires can become reality. The biggest improvement to your fuel saving aims can be offered to those of you with open fires. Open fires are great and look fabulous, but they need taking in hand if they are not to make away with all your spare cash. What appears to be an innocent little fireplace is actually a portal to energy waste, as the warm air that you have spent so much on to heat it up to a liveable temperature is rushing up the flue in a futile attempt to heat the outside world. The simplest and cheapest way of reducing this and start fuel saving is to insert a chimney balloon into the throat of the fireplace. This is surprisingly effective, but don’t worry about trying to seal it off perfectly, as it … Continue reading

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Why smoke comes back into your room?

Why smoke comes back into your room? A cold plug of air So why does smoke come back into your room when you light your fire? When looking at the problems that assail chimneys and fireplaces, some of the more difficult to diagnose are the transient ones, the ones that come and go. One in particular that comes to mind at the start of the fire burning season is the fireplace that for no apparent reason smoke comes back into your room and smokes the house out when the fire is lit for the first time in the autumn.  This can happen every autumn, or it may be that it happens for the first time to an otherwise impeccably behaved chimney. OK, so it might be due to a summer visitor building a nest in the chimney, but when you have the chimney swept, and it still persists, what do you do then?  What is the cause of this problem? Diagnosis is pretty simple.  Blockages, as when our ‘Feathered Friends’ decide to set up home in the flue leave a chimney dead.  Air neither moves up nor down the chimney, and when that hippy era diagnostic, the joss stick is … Continue reading

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Get Set to Light Our Fires – Annual Chimney Sweep

As autumn has arrived, temperatures are dropping and winter is looming on the horizon in the not so distant future, it’s that time of year when we look to dust off our fireplaces, stoves and fire guards and get set to light our fires for the first time of year and make our homes all warm and cosy again. Many of us are likely to be in denial that summer is over and that it’s getting damp in the mornings and evenings and wishing that maybe we will have just one more hot spell, before we reside ourselves to the fact that the evenings are starting to draw in and it is in fact autumn and the start of burning season. Whether you have already lit your fire to take the edge off the chill in the evenings or are prolonging it for as long as possible waiting on another warm spell, please remember to be safe and check your chimney and fireplaces before you light a fire. Statistics show that there are approximately 7,000 chimney fires a year in England but most of them are avoidable. Below is a short list of what to remember and to do before … Continue reading

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Chimney Fire

Chimney fires.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people are blasé about them, as they really aren’t funny at all.   Ok, so let’s start with the cause.  In very simplistic terms, your chimney gets dirty and then is allowed to overheat.  There is a handy expression for what is needed to start a fire, the ignition triangle, referring to the three things needed to start any fire.   Fuel. Enough air.  An ignition source.    Fuel.   In chimneys, the fuel source is the soot and tar deposited in the flue/chimney.  This contains carbon and unburnt hydrocarbons in varying proportions, depending on what you burn and how.  If you burn cheap or smokey fuels like house coal, or pine wood, there is a risk that they will give off higher levels of soot, and it is important to get your chimney swept regularly enough to keep those levels down to the point where they are unlikely to catch fire under normal use.   Always, it is essential to burn your fuel with a proper supply of oxygen/air.  Soot and tars are the products of incomplete combustion, and if you add more air to the burning mix, then … Continue reading

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    Before Ecco Stove was installed my annual oil bill was £1,350 but Ecco Stove reduced my oil bill to £130 with my wood bill rising slightly to £280. I’m saving just under £1,000 per year on heating alone, and my home is continually warm and cosy.
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