Last week I removed a small birds nest from a chimney at a house in Newport. It looked as if the birds had just begun building the nest; probably crows or magpies as there was a quantity of large sticks that had been covered with moss and soil. There was even some bits of cloth and what appeared to be bits of carpet, along with a piece of mirrored glass (yes, probably magpies). The chimney was being used in conjunction with an integral gas fire and had not been operating correctly because of the blockage in the chimney. The fire had been condemned and the gas disconnected by British Gas prior to my arrival – All gas appliances have to be disconnected by a Corgi registered fitter prior to being swept. To prevent the chimney becoming blocked again, I fitted an anti-bird cowl to the chimney pot.
It may be of interest to my customers to learn, that along with domestic chimney sweeping, I also industrial and commercial sweeping. Here is an example of such work; I recently swept the chimney of this large biomass boiler that is on an estate in Cambridgeshire. This biomass boiler runs by burning wood-chips, much as you would find at any garden centre. The wood chips are stored in a hopper in a very large barn like shed and are interestingly fed into the biomass boiler in the shed next-door by a large Archimedes screw. The biomass boiler is so efficient the only deposits from the burning process are a very fine, black, talcum powder like ash which automatically falls into a standard wheelie-bin. It takes over a month for the biomass boiler to fill the wheelie-bin with ash! Somebody still has to empty the wheelie-bin though! The biomass boiler chimney was seven and a half metres tall and had a diameter of 38cm; I swept it using manual rods and brushes. In addition I also had to sweep the fan housing to the chimney; I did this using my long handled sweeps brush.
As I drive around the area I am constantly drawn to looking at chimneys, it is I suppose an occupational hazard of being a chimney sweep! However, it does occasionally have some happy consequences; for example, just the other day I saw these ‘mad March hares’ boxing on a thatched roof in Stoke by Clare which caused me to smile and think of all the other signs of spring that are now fast emerging all around us. It then struck me that if these hares are made of straw, does that make them thatch animals, or ‘thatchamals’ for short? I know one thing for sure I will now be on the lookout for more thatchamals whilst on my travels.
Many people mistakenly believe that when their Aga or Rayburn are serviced, the servicing engineer sweeps the chimney/flue; this is not the case. This happened to me just the other day, the customer believed that her Aga flue had been swept regularly when she had the appliance serviced each year. So it turned out that it had not actually been swept for a very long time. Consequently the flue was very dirty, but was easily swept using the small viper and conventional brush. Another satisfied customer.