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Attractive Villager Stove Swept and Glass Repaired

Posted By paddy

I recently swept the flue to this rather attractive Villager Multi-Fuel stove and repaired the glass in the doors. I think I made rather a good job of it if I say so myself!

This stove like the majority of modern stove installations is one a stainless steel liner. I have heard frequently comments to the extent that such installations don’t require sweeping; this is a mistaken notion for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, it will be a requirement of any buildings insurance that wood burning stoves and any other solid fuel appliance should be swept annually by a qualified, Certified tradesman who can issue a recognized Sweeping Certificate. The implication being that if anything goes wrong with the chimney such as a chimney fire, the insurance company will refuse to pay out a claim if there is no current Sweeping Certificate. A second reason for sweeping the flue is to prevent anything happening like a chimney fire or the flue becoming clogged and blocked with deposits from burning. Thirdly, not a lot of people know that the sooty deposits in the liner can mix with water that condenses on the cold surface of the liner and forms a strong acid which can eat away at the liner drastically shortening the lifespan of the liner. With the cost of a new liner well over £1000 to supply and install, chimney sweeping can clearly be seen to be a more cost effective option.

Villager Stoves are made by Arada Ltd, I do like them, they are well constructed and easy to work on. Arada are based at The Fireworks, Weycroft Avenue, Axminster, Devon. EX13 5HU. www.aradastoves.com

Pesky crows – Nest Removed From a Farmhouse Chimney

Posted By paddy

Those pesky Rooks and Jackdaws have been at it again, is it a world conspiracy against chimney sweeps??? Do our feathered friends think that a busy sweep doesn’t have enough work to do so they go around creating more work everywhere. It’s a kind of natural job creation I suppose! And who can actually blame them, chimneys offer a warm, sheltered place to nest and rear their young.

Nest building in UK chimneys would appear to be predominantly a feature of the crow families’ nesting habits and involves them posting large quantities of varying size sticks down chimneys until the lodge somewhere in the chimney (frequently right at the bottom if there are no significant turns in the chimney). In this case the particular farmhouse chimney was 10 and a half meters tall and was filled from top to bottom with nest material. This can clearly be seen in the photo’s. The problem with these birds is that once they have found a suitable chimney for nesting, they tend to return to that chimney to nest year after year.



Interestingly, the Crow family, or to give them their Latin taxonomic name Corvidae family include; crowsravensrooksjackdawsjaysmagpiestreepieschoughs, and nutcrackers. The crow family are singled out for their somewhat remarkable intelligence. Specifically, members of the family have demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests (European magpies) and tool-making ability (e.g., crows and rooks), skills which until recently were thought to be possessed only by humans and a few other higher mammals. Their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to that of non-human great apes and cetaceans, and only slightly lower than that of humans.

I do get asked to remove birds nests with a great frequency, however this can only be done after August when the young have fledged, its actually illegal to remove a nest whilst the birds are nesting. The piece of legislation that covers bird’s nests is ‘The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981’, The Act states that it is an offence to:

Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird

Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird
while that nest is in use or being built

Penalties for breaking the law include large fines, or up to 6 months imprisonment or both!

According to James from the Edinburgh’s Bricklayers and Masonry Co, birds pose a far bigger risk than people assume. Having birds’ in your chimney can lead to dangerous blockages, chimney fires, infestations and damp.  Even if you don’t intend to use your fireplace – you should still remove a nest. A nest will completely block your chimney,  this can cause damp issues in the form of condensation build up. The chimney should be vented at both the top and the bottom as air is still allowed to flow through the chimney.

Nick Stokes, Main Editor at HeatWhiz.com, adds: “Besides the discomfort of birds chirping in your fireplace, the birds can actually infest your home with other harmful pests. Insects like ticks love to attach themselves to birds, and if a bird that has ticks ends up stuck in your chimney it can result in the tick getting inside your home and eventually biting you.








“The second significant danger is bird poop that will end up in your fireplace and can actually lead to diseases, some even as serious as histoplasmosis.”

There are a number of signs to look out for which might suggest a birds nest in the chimney:

  • Twigs, feathers, bird droppings and other debris in the fire place.
  • Birds flying back and forth dropping material into the chimney pot.
  • The chimney not drawing when lit or filling the room with smoke – Due to nest blockage in chimney
  • A fly infestation is frequently indicative of a collapsed nest or a dead bird in the chimney.

If any of these signs are present then a qualified, certificated chimney sweep is required. The chimney sweep will use specialist tools to remove the nest, use CCTV equipment to ensure all the nest material has been removed and smoke test the chimney to ensure it is safe for use.

Having removed a nest from a chimney it is always advisable to have an anti-bird cowl, sometimes called a bird guard, fitted to the chimney pot to prevent future nesting activity. That will certainly stop the little blighters!


Gone Fishing – Cat Chasing a Salmon – Huntingdon

Posted By paddy

A really busy week this week, I have worked all seven days due to demand. This morning, a Sunday morning, amongst other things, I took a large birds nest out of a Farmhouse chimney in Rickling Green (10 and a half meters of nest) and recovered a sweeping brush and rod that a customer had managed to wedge up his chimney in a thatched cottage in Fullers End! CCTV was most useful in locating and then retrieving the stuck brush. I could actually watch the brush retrieval took fastening hold of the brush, which I was then able to dislodge and pull out of the flue liner within which it was firmly wedged.

On a lighter note, here is another thatched animal, this time another cat, but one who has gone chasing a fish. I think the fish is probably a salmon?

More Biomass Boilers Swept – Okofen Pellematic

Posted By paddy

This is becoming a more common feature of sweeping in the Walden area, the cleaning of biomass boiler flues. In the past couple of months I have swept three of these Okofen biomass boiler systems. These were all providing heating and hot water to domestic dwellings in the local area; Debden where the photograph was taken, Henham and Rickling Green. This make of biomass boiler is fueled by burning specially made wood pellets; they are a small pellet of compressed wood shavings. Apparently they are designed in such a way to optimize the burn and efficiency of the biomass boiler. The pellets are stored in an adjoining hopper and are automatically fed into the boiler as it demands additional fuel. The boilers burn so efficiently that the produce only a very small amount of extremely fine soot that again is automatically fed from the fire box into a waste hopper. The owner need do very little other than occasionally top up the pellet hopper and then sit back and enjoy the benefits of cheap heating and hot water.

Okofen are an Austrian company and one of the world leaders in producing pellet fed biomass boilers, indeed they produced the world’s first pellet fed boiler in 1997.

Attractive Contemporary Cylindrical Stove Swept

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this rather attractive Contemporary Stove at an address in Wimbish Green. The stove was positioned in a very contemporary setting so went very well with the large open space room. Unusually and rather trickily, I had to undo two bolts in order to drop the baffle pales in order to access the flue. Fortunately, both bolts undid rather easily and I was able to sweep the flue without any issues. The only material that I was able to extract from the chimney was a quantity of very fine soot, which told me that both stove and chimney were working very efficiently together and burning as much of the fuel as possible. I’m not sure what make or model of stove it actually is, there were no names on the casting and a search of the internet was unhelpful; if anyone out there can enlighten me I would be grateful for the information.

Thatched Animal – A Cat having a stretch

Posted By paddy

Here is another of those thatched animals everyone likes to see; this one is of a cat having a good stretch. Obviously the cat would seem to have just woken up and is having a good cat like stretch. It seems to me that the majority of my customers either have cats or they have dogs in their homes. However, a small number of people have both cats and dogs, and it is always a surprise to me that cats and dogs can get on with each other within the confines of the home. Indeed, in many instances they appear genuinely friendly with each other and protective of each other. Quite amazing I think you will agree?

The Latin name for the domestic cat is Felis Catus, which literally translates as Woodland Cat. The dictionary definition of cat describes them as a small carnivorous mamal, typically furry.

Attractive Victorian Fireplace Swept with an Audience

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this very attractive open fireplace at a house in Radwinter. As you can see I had an audience for the job, this is Maisey the chocolate Labrador. Maisey took a real liking for my dust sheets and wanted to do nothing more than just stretch out and have a bit of attention and company. Maisey is really old, although I can’t remember how old she is other than for a dog she is a very stately age. She is now blind in one eye, but she still gets about and her owner tells me she still enjoys her food and walks.

As you can see from the photo’s the fire place was very attractive, and had beautiful tiles along each side, setting off the ornamental wrought ironwork and making it very eye-catching. There are companies that now renovate these Victorian fireplaces and they can command rather high resale prices; you only have to peruse the internet to see what I’m talking about. Many of the reproductions sell for quite a few hundred pounds whereas the originals can sell for figures over £1,000. Indeed, original and reproduction tiles for Victorian fire places sell for rather high prices on their own.

You might be able to see from the photograph that I swept this chimney using traditional rods and brush. It was rather surprising that for a reasonably small village house, this fireplace had a rather tall chimney; it turned out to be over 15 and a half meters tall from the bottom of the chimney to the pot at the top of the chimney stack. Quite surprising! It turned out to be rather dirty too; well it was a very long cold winter last year after all!

An Audience for the Boxing Match – Fighting Hares and a Rabbit?

Posted By paddy

Yes, it is that busy time of year again; I have been working six full days a week now since the beginning of August. The seasons have Cleary turned from Summer into autumn, the leaves are turn brown and gold dropping from the trees and we have already had the first autumn gales. It won’t be long now before winter and the burning season, so everyone is now thinking about getting their stoves and open fires ready. So I thought it would be a good idea to have a little bit of summer and to look at this interesting picture of three thatched hares; two boxing and one watching. Or is that spectator a rabbit. Or as the old baldness/wig joke goes, ‘from a distance they all look like hares (hairs)!

Birds Nest Removed in Abington

Posted By paddy

Last week I re-attended an address in Abington to remove a bird’s nest from a chimney. I had initially attended the property at the end of May this year when I had swept a Jetmaster open fire configuration in the lounge and attempted to seep a small Coalbrookdale Wood-burning stove in the dining room. I had found that the chimney for this appliance was blocked from the level of the register plate and estimating that the stack was about 14 meters high, I realized that to clear the chimney would take a long and as yet to be determined length of time. Certainly, much longer than I had that day with the number of calls I had booked. I had also noticed that there were Jackdaws perching on the lip of the chimney pot and flying back and forth to the chimney. I surmised that it was these Jackdaws who were the culprits for blocking the chimney with a nest.

Although I’m not much of an ornithologist, I did know something of their nesting habits and was aware that they breed, build or repair their nests between April and July, and that their young are fledged and leave the nest between July and August. So potentially those at the top of the chimney were potentially feeding young in the nest. This would mean that to avoid killing or injuring the young, it would only be safe to sweep the nest towards the end of August.

I additionally knew that although leaving the nest in place until the young are fledged was the ecologically and ethically the right thing to do, it was also a legal requirement. It would actually be breaking the law to attempt to remove the nest in May knowing what I knew and having observed the behaviour of the rooks.

Interestingly, the legislation that covers bird’s nests is ‘The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981’, The Act states that it is an offence to:

Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird

Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird
while that nest is in use or being built

Penalties for breaking the law include large fines, or up to 6 months imprisonment or both!

In view of all this I arranged with the customer to re-attend at the end of August.

Upon re-attending the address I removed and inspection hatch in the register plate (it was an old style installation with stove pipe into a register plate with inspection hatches and no liner), and discovered that the void between the register plate and the mouth of the chimney flue (approximately two and a half feet), was entirely filled with compacted tar deposits. Having removed this I encountered about three a half meters of nest material consisting of sticks of varying sizes on top of which were two dead birds, one of which was a Rook. Strangely, there was nothing on top of the dead birds; they seem to have been lying on top of the nest.

The photo I took shows the two dead birds lying on top of one of the trugs containing some of the compacted tar I removed from the chimney.

All in all it was quite a mucky, but satisfying job and the customer was pleased that they could now safely use their stove again.

Another Domestic Pet – A Labradoodle Dog Called Noodle

Posted By paddy

Carrying on the pet theme in thatched animals, I saw this thatched dog at a house in Radwinter where I swept four chimneys recently. The owner told me that they had personally requested the thatcher to make for them a thatch representation of the family pet dog Noodle who is a Labradoodle. If you like me are asking what a Labradoodle is; it is a cross between a Labradore and a poodle. Apparently, this breed of dog does not molt very much. In real life Noodle was a very handsome, active and friendly dog, who wanted to play a lot and get as much attention as he could. He was big on the licking front too and paid particular interest in my dust sheets. I must also add that I thought that his thatched counterpart was a very good likeness of him and one that the customer/owners were very proud of.

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