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Solving Problems with a small Coalbrookdale Multi-Fuel stove

Posted By paddy

I recently swept the chimney for this small Coalbrookdale Multi-Fuel stove and encountered a number of problems that had developed in the chimney over an extended period of time. It transpired that the house had recently been purchased by new owners and that the previous owners had probably never had the chimney swept in all the time that they had resided at the property. This apparently was over a period of about 40 years, and it was highly likely that the stove had been there and in use over much of that time.

The stove itself was in relatively good condition, but was what I would term an old style installation; in that it was not lined, having a stove pipe that extended a short distance above the register plate and then ended inside the chimney. Consequently, this means that when the chimney is swept the upper surface of the register plate has to be cleaned off through the inspection hatches in the plate. This is because all the soot and material that is swept off the inside of the chimney falls down and lands on the register plate. This particular chimney had an approximately meter or so square void directly above the register plate before the chimney narrowed to about a foot square for the remainder of the stack (which was 11 and half meters tall).

Upon examination I found that the entire void in the chimney and for about a metre up the stack was completely full of compacted tar blocking the chimney. I removed this using rods and a pigs tail fitting; a process that took some time and which filled six and a half large trugs full of tar. I then found that four and a half meters up the stack there was a crows nest right up to the top of the stack. I again removed this this using rods and a the pigs tail fitting and the metal flail attachment, before I could sweep the chimney with a brush. A very time consuming process indeed.

The small Coalbrookdale Multi-Fuel stove is a rather attractive little stove and I still see one or two of the about on my rounds as well as some of the larger Coalbrookdale stoves. This is unusual as they have been out of production for some  time now, as the Coalbrookdale company does not exist any more as they were taken over by Aga. Aga have replaced the small Coalbrookdale Multi-Fuel stove with their own Aga Little Wenlock stove. Contact http://www.agaliving.com

A Little Bit of Cat and Mouse

Posted By paddy

Time for another thatched animal I feel and something to cheer everyone up in the middle of this dark December. This one certainly made me smile, with the little mouse being chased by the cat, echoes of ‘Tom and Jerry’ I feel here. Certainly the owner of this thatched cottage must have a lively sense of humor?

Why do cats, chase mice, is it just a natural predatory instinct on the behalf of the cat? Or are mice just one of life’s victims or do they just like the sport of running away? According to the Inter-web/Google “Cats chase mice to fulfill their instincts, as felines are natural predators and hunters whose vision is developed to see moving objects much better than stationary things”. And apparently; “within small which limits the possibility of counterattack (the expression ‘fight like a cornered rat’ is based on reality) and unlike birds, mice can’t escape by flying off. So it is not surprising that cats like to hunt mice; for a cat-hunting is a survival instinct”.

Further to all this scientific speculation, cats allegedly bring back slaughtered and alive gifts back to their owners because in the wild, cat mothers teach their young how to eat their food by bringing home dead or injured prey.

All very interesting I think you will agree?

Large Charnwood Stove Swept

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this rather attractive Charnwood Stove. I do like a Charnwood, they are attractive, contemporary whilst at the same time being classical and they are very easy to dismantle. The baffle, although heavy in a large stove like this one, simply lifts forwards over the retaining pins and then drops down through the square slots in the baffle.

This large charnwood in a large inglenook was deceptively found to be in the lounge of a small cottage and not as you might expect in a larger house. They certainly knew how to build a large chimney in the old days! The installation was relatively recent, the customer having had it installed just over four years previously. The customer was very pleased with the stove’s appearance and performance, stating that it warmed the room up very nicely!

 Charnwood stoves are a very well known stove manufacturer and are located on the isle of Wight. A J Wells & Sons Ltd, the manufacturers of Charnwood Stoves, was founded in 1972 and is a privately owned, family controlled, British company that specialises in the design and manufacture of high quality wood burning and multifuel stoves. They are actually the oldest British manufacturer of wood burning stoves, run by second and third generations of the family. There advertising blurb states that they “are dedicated to providing products of enduring design and of the highest quality”.

 It all started in 1972, when Alfred Wells and two of his sons, started a small engineering business in Niton on the Isle of Wight. Over the last forty years we have grown from our original small factory of around 1500 sq. ft to our current site of over 50,000sq. Ft.

We have always been keen to provide local employment on the Isle of Wight and have seen the number of our employees rise from the original 3 to well over 150. The company state that they are very proud of our workforce who have rewarded them by staying loyal to the company, with many staff having worked with us for over 25 years. Such continuity brings stability to the business ensuring that pride in the company and the quality of our products is maintained. The owners of the company are Christians and Christian values and principles underpin the way they do business and run the company.

Their company advertising goes on to say that “commitment to our staff is vital as is the commitment to invest in the latest technology to ensure the highest quality. Over the years we have installed our own Vitreous Enamelling Plant, CNC controlled Press Brakes, Robotic Welders and a state of the art Laser Profiler all of which allow pin point accuracy resulting in superior quality. Keeping the manufacture of as many parts as possible in-house enables us to maintain full production control to provide our customers with long-lasting products leading the field technically in both operation and function.

Contact details for Charnwood stoves are as follows:

Charnwood stoves,

Bishops Way,


Isle of Wight PO30 5WS

Sales 01983 537777

Technical & Spares 01983 537799

Large Firebelly Stove Swept in a Farmhouse

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this rather large, attractive woodburning stove in a farmhouse close to Thaxted. The stove was a make and model I had nor come across before, the rather aptly named Firebelly (As this particular stove had a rather ample firebox; as you can see from the photograph). With a little research I discovered that Firebelly are actually a UK stove manufacturer based in Halifax in West Yorkshire, their full address is:

Firebelly Stoves Ltd,

Unit B Marshall Hall Mills,

Elland, Halifax, West Yorkshire




I found this particular model to be rather elegant and attractive and it was very easy to work on and came apart and back together rather easily thanks to its intelligent design. The only issue with this sweep was the white carpets throughout the downstairs of the premises (Every sweeps nemesis). So I was careful to put down plenty of sheeting, particularly as the customer wasn’t sure how long it was since the flue was last swept. As it turned out, this was a very wise precaution as the flue was very dirty and a large quantity of very fine soot was ultimately removed from the appliance following sweeping. Yet another satisfied customer.

Domestic Contentment – Cat and Dog living happily together – Maxey Peterborough

Posted By paddy

I thought it was time for another thatched animal, well two on this occasion, a cat and a dog living happily together. I think you will agree that this a picture of real domestic contentment? It is surprising just how many of my customers have cats and dogs who live together quite happily. Who said that cats and dogs are old enemies?

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.

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