|Chimney sweep’s brushmaking advances to the TV aerial.
On Thursday, Dean Bond the chimney sweep came round to clean the chimneys.
Back in London, we had several fireplaces but no actual fires, so I never needed to find a chimney sweep.
Nowadays we do use four chimneys to a greater or lesser degree, even if we never light fires in the bedrooms.
The kitchen chimney is in constant use by the Aga and another is in regular use above the woodburner.
The fires in the dining room and sitting room are only lit on special occasions or when friends come to visit, but it still seems a good idea to get them cleaned.
So I book an appointment for Dean to come round roughly once a year, much as you might get a boiler serviced every year. He cleans everything up, checks for problems and dispenses words of wisdom based on his 30+ years of experience.
|Cleaning the chimney above the Aga
The chimney sweep started at one end of the house, with the chimney above the Aga. Turns out it has a little door at the back of the stove pipe, and Dean has a specially small brush designed to fit up the pipe.
The big yellow cylinder on wheels is a massive vaccuum cleaner.
Here’s a photo of the mini sweep’s brush sticking out of the top of the kitchen chimney:
|Mini chimney sweep’s brush, out and proud
Next up was the dining room chimney. We really don’t use it very often, but it happily sucks warm air out of the room all the time, and dirt and feathers drop down the chimney when the crows take up residence on the chimney pot.
Dean has suggested we make a sliding panel to cut out some of the air flow, by fixing a couple of L shaped iron bars either side of the chimney, and cutting a piece of wood to slide in and out over them. We could then remove the wood panel on the rare occasions we might light a fire. Apparently we’d need to put a small grille in the wood, so the chimney stayed ventilated rather than getting too cold and damp.
|Cleaning the dining room chimney,
with a blanket fixed over the bottom half of the fireplace opening.
Elsewhere the woodburner was fitted since Dean’s last visit. He’s a big fan of woodburners, pointing out that an open fire is only about 25% efficient, whereas a woodburner is 80% efficient, so we get more heat from the woodburner than if we had three other fires all roaring away at the same time.
|Cleaning the chimney above the woodburner
Usually I leave everything to do with the woodburner to my husband, but Dean showed me how to remove the metal plate that fits into the top of the woodburner at the back. He recommended taking it out once a month, to sweep off any soot that might have gathered and prevent a potential fire risk.
I love the fact that Dean keeps the handles that extend the sweep’s brush in a golf bag, as you can see in the photo above. He takes out the handles one at a time, screwing them on to the current handle, and then pushing the extended handle up the chimney until the brush comes out above the chimney pot.
When he’s pulling the brush back down, he unscrews each section and gives it a sharp tap on the remaining handle, to shake any soot off. You can see the black blanket under all the equipment to catch any dirt.
|Checking the pot where the brush emerges
As each chimney was swept, we nipped outside to see where the brush emerged. The other pots are unused chimneys, leading from bedrooms. Think we have most of the unused pots capped off – while retaining some ventilation – to help stop dirt coming down and hot air surging upwards.
|Cleaning the chimney in the sitting room
Finally it was the turn of the chimney in the sitting room. We don’t use this fire too often as it doesn’t draw very well, so tends to be a bit smokey. Dean suggested installing a deeper panel at the top of the fireplace opening – think you can just make out the current narrow black strip of metal, underneath the white mantelpiece.
Four chimneys done and dusted later, and Dean lifted up the corners of the blanket, picked up the bag of brushes and wheeled the vaccuum cleaner back to his van.
The combination of the dust sheet and all Dean’s vacuuming meant the house was left in a cleaner state than when he arrived, instead of the sooty mess you might imagine. Now it’s all done any dusted for another year or so.