A customer recently contacted me to say that there was a really bad smell coming from an unused chimney in an upstairs bedroom. She went on to say that the smell had started when they had lit a wood burning stove in the room below. My immediate thought was that an animal had got into the chimney somehow and had died, perhaps a squirrel or bird and had begun to decay causing the terrible smell. I reassured the customer that everything would be ok and that the way forward was to make a CCTV examination of the chimney in order to identify the problem and then deal with what every might be identified as causing the issue.
Having said all this, when I attended the address and examined the chimney I found that some time previously the chimney had been blocked to prevent drafts. Someone had used a number of small hessian sacks stuffed with newspaper to block the chimney and that behind these a quantity of building material from the lining of the chimney, dirt, dust, leaves, twigs and feathers had built on the top of the sacks. One of the sacks in particular had become moldy and smelly. I looked at the newspaper filling the sacks and found it was from the Daily Mail dated 4th December 1956, so this stuffing had obviously been there a long time. Well perhaps up to 62 years! I examined the chimney with CCTV and found it to be completely clear of any other suspicious material and that it was not linked with the lined stove in the room below. So the rotten sacking proved to be the offending items after all! Job done and another satisfied customer.