Chimney Sweeps and the Problems they Encounter

This article was seen in the November 2016 Newsletter - "Katie Sweep diary Chimney Sweeps and the problems they encounter. This article will cover the following.

  • Common chimney problems a sweep faces

  • New chimney sweeping numatic vacs and CCTV

  • Chimney Sweeps in the media

common chimney problems a sweep faces 1Common chimney problems a sweep faces

Well I am not even sure where to start with the goings on of this last month…What hasn’t happened really! A few words to sum it all up though would be  ‘Full on’ - ‘ridiculously busy’ - ‘new stuff…aka Equipment, whoop!’ - ‘dealing with what life throws at you’ - ‘not enough hours in the day’ – All in all pretty much a real roller-coaster of a month! I would like to start by expressing my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of GroFuel and fireplace.co.uk’s very own Peter Turner. We are all so very saddened to hear that Pete has passed away earlier this month. Our thoughts and condolences are with all of Pete’s family and friends at such a sad, sad time. Life can be so unpredictable and cruel at times.

Other Shocks this month come in the form of being told by the lovely Jayne Sweep who works for me that she would be leaving for Australia for a whole 3 months! … with 2 weeks’ notice… at our very busiest time of year!…with a fully booked work schedule! ekk so that is now Jayne gone now from mid-October and returning in mid-January!

common chimney problems a sweep faces 2With this as you can imagine it has been a bit manic to say the least with having to re shuffle people’s appointments (Thank you Alison our superstar receptionist) and with myself and the remaining sweep team members really putting in the extra effort to keep all our customers happy without having to cancel all our pre-booked sweeps! A bit of a nightmare, but that is the joys of staff and people and life in general I suppose, Thankfully and unbelievably we seemed to have pulled it off, Few! I have now gone from working part time and juggling a busy business/family life with the kids;  to now working full time, and still juggling a busy family/work life!  Keep calm and carry on’ as the saying goes.

New chimney sweeping numatic vacs and CCTV

To make our lives a little easier we have now (and finally been able to just afford) full power sweeping kits for the team with new drills to match and even retiring the old faithful Numatic vacs and replacing with with nice new upgraded Numatic vacs. All very posh indeed and really looking like the professionals that we of course are.

As an added bonus and a real-life changer our super posh new Rodtech power sweeping kit also came with full Chimney CCTV kit, with both wired and wireless Cameras, all this as part of a special offer they have running at the moment, Brilliant! The CCTV kits for all the team has made a massive difference to our work, removing all the guess work out of all those previously hidden chimney issues. Although we certainly had a good idea of the problem It was/could be. It has been marvelous to be able to clearly see and confirm any chimney problem and also be able to show our customers, who are also always really impressed.

But no matter how good and experienced a sweep you are with all the latest in chimney sweeping kit, It still does not take away the fact that you are sure to still have ‘One of those days!...or possibly several.

I shall give you a rundown of last Friday as a prime example.

common chimney problems a sweep faces 3Start: Head out for the day bright and early around 7am to do 7 sweeps and a few related errands. Firstly, get stuck in traffic for well over an hour, then of course running late all day. Have to write out and issue warning notices for 3 of my 7 chimneys throughout my late-running day. En-route back, around 6pm after a rather long day, still with a few service calls to do. Call as planned at first tenanted house to do a quick drop off, put refurbished stove door back on the stove, (after having to take it away to re drill and thread for the bolt that had previously been de-headed and ceased in, to then be able to replace cracked stove glass, that was done the day previous). Put door back on the stove and then the replacement door seal rope is too thick!!! Arghhh!!…I had to then re do the door rope on the van passenger seat at 6.30pm on a Friday evening in the dark! After that I finally call at my very last port of call to replace full cast fire set consisting of the grate, fret, ashpan etc., and the Tennent who was expecting me was then not in! *sigh*... they were no doubt out having an enjoyable Friday evening like most normal people. I get home to then realise I had called at the wrong house! Number 40 not 30!

I finally make it home, see the children for all of 2 mins before their bed time, pay wages, have tea, shower, bed, then up at 6.30 to set off for a morning of Saturday sweeping! … ‘Eat, Sweep, Repeat!’. I am sure all Sweeps and pretty much everyone within our industries can relate to the long hours and days that we all put in at this time of year.

common chimney problems a sweep faces 4I think I have come across near enough every chimney issue there is this month!  To name a few… Tar and Creosote, wrong Cowls, bricks and collapsed mid-feathers, smoke exiting from the side of people’s houses through the brickwork where the stack runs. Plasterboard register plates, many an unlined chimney with no access at all in the register plate. Warped baffle plates, single skin vitreous flue pipe connecting to terracotta flue sections sealed with fiberglass insulation!!!, two of those in-fact and many other chimney/installation atrocities.

All customers were fully informed of the above-mentioned issues, not that it was exactly the news that they were wanting to hear! And as expected, the relevant warning notices issued and the customers set on the right path to get the problems corrected.

In better, and more positive news I was very pleased to see myself and my Husband Tom of Biomass Sweeping Solutions ltd, and many other chimney sweeps I know appearing as listed sweeps in the new posh HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep guide. It looks really good, well done HETAS.

Chimney Sweeps in the media

My latest claim to fame is I have just been on BBC Radio York as a guest clue for Claire Frisby’s Saturday morning show ‘Finders Keepers! My clue was related to the Mary Poppins Author P.L.Travers. A nice bit of local publicity and the whole thing was great fun… other than the truly embarrassing moment when one of the shows visiting presenter Jeremy (of ‘Jeremy and Jericho’ fame, who drive around clue hunting for the show for those who have not heard it before) in spectacular fashion, live on air stood in my dogs, Great Dane dog poo in the lane on the way in to my house. How Embarrassing!
I managed to divert attention from the dog poo common chimney problems a sweep faces 5situation by introducing them to the dogs themselves. Diesel and Doller our two black Great Danes who proved a big hit, and thankfully deflected from the other happening…in amongst all this I did briefly get to mention a few chimney related bits and pieces, so all's well that ends well!

But alas just to keep me grounded I have just received in the post my first ever speeding ticket! Marvelous!
What a month indeed!

 Click here to see more of Katie Sweeps diary entries.

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