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#Chim chimminy, chim chimminy, chim chim cheroo - John C. Kirk

Oct. 9th, 2008

11:56 pm - #Chim chimminy, chim chimminy, chim chim cheroo

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Today I had my chimney swept; I'm supposed to get this done every year, although according to my records the last time was in November 2005 (oops). Anyway, I recommend the NACS website if you ever need to hire a sweep, and I was very happy with the guy who turned up ("Mr Cleansweep"). I resisted the temptation to put on a Dick Van Dyke accent! It's quite interesting to watch a sweep at work, where they keep screwing on extra poles to push the brush up the chimney, and this guy had some useful advice. Since I live in a smoke controlled area, I always use smokeless fuel (rather than coal or wood) in my fireplace, and it normally takes me a while to get the fire going. However, I am apparently allowed to use kindling wood; there's some kind of "20 minute exception clause" to start the fire. So, I went to the local petrol station to buy a bag of kindling, and that made the process a lot easier. I also need to investigate "kiln dried logs", which apparently don't produce much smoke.

Since my gas boiler isn't working properly at the moment, it's quite useful to have the fireplace as a backup source of heat. In previous years, I've wound up sleeping in the lounge, but it's not quite that chilly yet. I've now tried out my toasting fork for the first time: it's a bit more labour intensive than using an electric toaster, and the bread did taste a bit sooty, but there is something nice about sitting by the fire eating hot buttered toast. (Ok, technically I used Flora Pro-Activ Light margarine rather than butter, but near enough.)

More generally, there are aesthetic benefits to a fireplace that you don't get with a radiator. When I put the kindling on, it made loud snapping noises; the wood stayed in one piece, but it really did sound like a loud version of Rice Krispies. Once the "coal" started burning, it made a quieter crackling noise, and every so often I'd hear the pile shift (as lumps got smaller) or hear the ash dropping down through the grate. These sounds are a bit more subtle, so they get drowned out by the TV, but I'm starting to think that it's a bad habit of mine to leave the TV on in the background if there's nothing particular I want to watch. So, instead I just sat by the fire in my armchair, reading a book, and enjoying the warmth and the sounds. Simple pleasures, but they make me happy.

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From:elvum
Date:October 10th, 2008 09:44 am (UTC)
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Just wondering - if you're using smokeless fuel, what is it that blocks the chimney up and requires it to be swept? :-)
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From:ext_5743
Date:October 10th, 2008 09:54 am (UTC)
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Smokeless fuel is coke (coal heated without it burning) and burns at a higher temperature than house coal. It doesn't produce the thick black smoke that gave rise to London's "pea-soup" fogs, but it still contains a certain amount of tar, which will gradually collect in your chimney. But yes, burning smokeless fuel is generally better for your chimney, if not for your carbon footprint!
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From:johnckirk
Date:October 10th, 2008 10:41 am (UTC)
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A lot of the stuff that came out of the chimney was dust/rubble from the walls themselves, rather than soot/tar from the fireplace. Also, he found a (potato) chip in there, which had presumably been dropped by a bird sitting on the chimney pot.
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