Katie Sweep - What a Difference a Day Makes!

I am currently sat on my comfortable sofa in my warm, cosy living room, of course with our stove lit, typing away on the laptop, while the little ones watch back to back ‘Ben & Hollie’ on the television (a popular children’s program for those of you not in the know, also Evie’s favourite), we are all very content. Looking through the window at the weather outside, I think that will be our plan for the rest of the day as its horrid, wet and cold… much like the weather yesterday!

What a difference a day makesOther than the weather, my day yesterday was a complete contrast, as yesterday I had left good old Yorkshire to visit a wet and windy Derby undertaking some very large sweeping work for a well-known national company, who I best not mention by name with customer confidentiality and all that! I wouldn’t want to get myself in to bother so I will be a little vague with a few details.

Over the last month I have been venturing across the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) visiting and sweeping some rather large and impressive biomass boilers with rather large and impressive flue systems! Myself and the lady sweeps are certainly very used to sweeping nice small to medium sized domestic biomass boilers, but the sheer size of some of the industrial set ups I have come across in this last month in comparison is amazing. A real eye opener and quite daunting at first glance, but once I had taken a good look around and soon realised it is just like any other flue system only giant!… and of course with a few added complications.

Unfortunately as tends to be the case with such things, nothing is ever straight forward. The company who installed the boiler systems quite a while ago now, were obviously not chimney sweeps and had not given all that much thought as to how the flue systems would be swept. Although there were accesses, quite often these were butted up against walls, others had been siliconed shut, and some had been situated in unreachable places that will require specialist gangways putting in over the top of motor’s, pipework and augers.

Other access points in places were external, with a few been within reach on ground level but the majority being at a great height and far from safe to access and sweep using a standard ladder! So another part of my job has been to document all the details, including layout of the flue systems, information on the parts of the flue systems that were sweepable and the parts that were not, why this was, and possible remedies to the issues.

All the detailed information is then being passed on to the relevant people so that steps can be taken and remedies put in place, enabling the flues to be swept safely and keeping their biomass boilers running happily and in good safe working order. It is recommended that all biomass flues are swept at least once a year and it is believed that these have never been swept since installation, so they are certainly long overdue.

What a difference a day makes 2

I often felt like I was in the film Jurassic park as everything was on such a large scale… and with undertaking such giant work, giant equipment is needed! With the flues been a minimum of 14’’ in diameter, the largest selection of all our Chimney sweeping brushes where dug out and put to work (these are rarely used in our day to day domestic chimneys) the 6 foot rods proved to be most useful, but the most appreciated and newest addition to our sweep kit been the Rodtech power sweeping equipment. After many conversations with the team at Rodtech about the kind of sweeping we would be undertaking the specialist kit was ordered, and thank goodness I did as without it there would have been many a flue I would not have been able to sweep at all with our standard brush and rods.  With one of the main access points for the flue being situated on a fan unit this was a bit of a squeeze up past there even with the rotary equipment and would have been impossible to get the correct size manual brush up there.

So all in all it has been quite an adventure and another really interesting aspect of the sweeping profession. This batch of onsite jobs are now all complete for the year, and I am very pleased to be back home to a stormy Yorkshire with my little family and a warm fireside.

I wonder what further adventures the New Year will hold for us?

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year with the chance for a no doubt well deserved rest after a very busy past few months. Enjoy!


Read more from Katie Sweeps Diary https://www.fireplace.co.uk/chimney-sweep-diarist/59


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