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#When I'm cleaning windows ^H^H^H chimneys - John C. Kirk

Nov. 20th, 2009

11:16 am - #When I'm cleaning windows ^H^H^H chimneys

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Now that the weather is getting colder, I'll want to use my fireplace again soon, so I had the chimney sweep round this morning (the same guy as last year). This didn't take long: he was here for about 45 minutes altogether, and about 15 minutes of that was either preparation at the start or tidying up afterwards.

Thinking back to Mary Poppins, they covered up all the furniture in the room before they swept the chimney, presumably to stop soot going everywhere. However, the guy I had here did it a different way: he taped a cloth cover around the fireplace, which has a tube sticking out in the middle, a bit like an elephant's trunk. He then fed the brush through this tube, and screwed on each rod in turn to extend it up the chimney. Meanwhile, there was also a vacuum cleaner with the nozzle stuck under one corner of the cloth cover, which sucked out all the soot that fell down the chimney. That worked out quite nicely, so the rest of the room stayed clean and tidy. (Well, technically it's a complete mess, but that's just my clutter - it didn't get any worse!)

Chatting to the sweep, he mentioned that he's very busy at this time of year, whereas there's very little to do in May/June. That made sense, since I'd expect this to be seasonal. However, the interesting thing is that apparently it wasn't always this way. Back in the old days, people would do "spring cleaning" once the winter was over, so they'd take up the carpets and clean the chimney once they'd finished with it for the year, rather than waiting until they were about to start using it again. That seems sensible, so I'll try that next year.

I've still got a scuttle full of "coal" (smokeless fuel) left over from last year, but I'll need to buy more soon. However, the sweep suggested that I could ask around local shops to see whether they have any pallets delivered. These are apparently made of kiln-dried wood, so they won't produce smoke; I'd just need to saw them up myself. That sounds like a good plan, since I do like a wood fire (i.e. proper flames), and it would be cheaper than buying bags of fuel. I'm not sure whether this would affect my carbon footprint, assuming that these pallets would wind up being destroyed anyway, but I won't feel too guilty about that.

Anyway, I've got the rest of the day off work (using up my annual leave before it expires), so I'll try to be productive.

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From:karne_k
Date:November 20th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)
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Carbon footprint of wood is always going to be less than anything based on a fossil fuel (unless you were intending to bury the pallets in a peak bog somewhere ;) ).
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From:sammoore
Date:November 21st, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
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a peak bog? Is that a particularly high peat bog? :-)
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From:karne_k
Date:November 21st, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
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:P
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From:alexmc
Date:November 20th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
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Are you in London? I'm thinking about using my fireplaces for the first time since I moved in eight years ago... I still don't actually know if they are open, what I can burn, and what ironwork I need to safely burn stuff...
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From:johnckirk
Date:November 20th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
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Yup, I'm in South Croydon, and this is a "smoke control area". I think I got some blurb about that when I moved in, but I can't remember where from, e.g. whether it was from the council or part of my leasehold. Anyway, there's a list here that you might find useful:
http://www.uksmokecontrolareas.co.uk/locations.php

As for your fireplaces, I strongly recommend getting a chimney sweep in before you try lighting a fire! In theory, there's a risk of setting fire to the chimney if there's too much soot up there. More importantly, the sweep will be able to check how far up the chimney goes, i.e. whether he can stick his brush out of the top. When I moved in here, the fireplace was boarded up, so I had it opened and then we did a "smoke test" to make sure that nothing leaked into the flat above.

When you say ironwork, do you mean tongs, shovel, etc.? Anything from a fireplace shop should be fine for that, since it will be designed to withstand the heat.
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