Chimney Detectives by Katie Sweep

As professional chimney sweeps we have a duty of care to our customers to make sure their chimney and appliance is in safe good working order. I often think chimney sweeps should also be known as chimney detectives.

Katie Sweep TeamIn many cases it is not always straight forward finding the cause of a problem and it involves doing a spot of chimney detective work to diagnose the cause of the problem with many people completely unaware that there is even a problem at all.

This last Week alone I have had to inform many a customer that the chimney is not safe and unfit to use due to their mid-feathers within the chimney (the brickwork that separates the chimney flues) been damaged, normally this is simply caused by the age of the property and wear and tear over the many years. This is a very common thing for us as we sweep a great deal of Victorian terrace house properties in the city of York. After giving the chimney a thorough sweep and then conducting the smoke evacuation check we are never overly surprised to see the smoke making its way out of all 4, 6 or even 8 to 10 chimney pots. We then have to break the news to the customer who has normally been waiting for our visit and sat eagerly waiting to light the fire. Not the news they were hoping for when we tell them they cannot. Although not the best news for them at least they are then safe and well informed. We do not deal with chimney repairs or installation of new Liners ourselves but are very lucky to have a number of Professional HETAS associates who deal with both installation of the stainless steel flexible liners and my personal favourite the Cast in Situ Concrete lining.

I will never forget making a visit many years ago to a large old house in one ofKatie Sweep the surrounding villages noticing on arrival the stack did not look in good order. During sweeping of the chimney when chatting away to the gentlemen he happened to mention that after using the fire for most of the winter months that it always smoked in to his daughter’s bedroom! And yet he has still been lighting the fire regardless! I was shocked, immediately condemning the fire.

When carrying out the smoke evacuation check the majority of the smoke was making its way out of the side chimney stack running up the side of the house. How he had not realised any of these issues was a major problem is beyond me.

There is never a dull day as a chimney sweep.

Other issue s we have come across this week came in the formKatie Sweep of a Rotor Stainless steel chimney liner that had been in situ for approximately 8 years but unfortunately there were issues with damp in the original chimney causing the liner to slowly rot away over time. Not good news for our first time customer or Jayne sweep who works for me as her specialist brush and rods had unavoidably gone through the side of the liner and then got tangled making it impossible to remove so they have had to remain within the liner and awaiting a company coming along to remove and re install a new liner, when they visit we will return back to retrieve our equipment… luckily we have plenty of spares.

Fortunately the majority of chimneys and appliances are in safe and good working order and as experienced chimney sweeps relatively straight forward to sweep. It seems quite appropriate that in the week of Halloween  we  had a few scary chimneys.

Read more from Katie Sweeps Diary


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