A chimney sweep understands wood fire

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Hello all and welcome to my blog post.

I have been asking myself of late, in this modern world of gas and electricity why in earth do we love our real wood fires so much.  I mean compared to other fuel types they are not controllable, as safe or even as efficient. Oh a lest not forget much less effort.

To answer this question we have to take a look at what bought us to 2017 from the days when we were merely evolved primates, Evolution.  The skill to control fire is one that over hundreds of thousands of years has brought several advantages and has changed the way we have evolved.

  • Heat. ¬†Heat is one of the key elements that we require for survival
  • light. ¬†Having extra light means that we would have been more active and productive for longer.
  • The ability to cook food and boil water. Importantly boiling water was the primary method of sterilisation for a milinium.

A huge evolutionary advantage would have been gained through the control of fireTens if thousands of years ago, the human race was tribal. Generally Men would hunt and fight and woman would educate and gather. After several days hunting or gathering the first signs of the village would have been smoke from the fire, then as you drew closer the flickering light would be visible. This would be the first signs that you were home, ¬†that fire would have meant; food; safety, family,warmth and home. This instinct is still with us today if you ¬†walk into a public house with an open fire like a moth to a lantern you are drawn towards the flames. Maybe you return home to a lit stove, the infra red permiates your skin, the flame lights your face like a summers day and ūüíĮ you know your home.

 

There is almost a life of its own within a wood fire, the very randomness of the flame caused by a million different variables from heat, to temperature to turbulence combine to make a flame that dances like a belly dancer crossed with a cloud hypnotising you and holding your gaze. This wood fired flame never becomes boring or tiresome and is ever more beautiful.

Chimney sweeps like many others today both fear and love fire

Finally as a race I think we like to control what we are afraid of. Fire can be most fearsome of thing, if you take a look a forest fires or a volcano we can only stand in awe powerless in their power. I would have a guess that when fire was first harnessed by a few that they were revered as almost god like. Gunpowder most certainly changed the world order.

Even pub chimney need sweeping by a chimney sweep

And so a fire means many things to us on an instinctive primal level, there is still a little hunter gatherer in each of us although splitting a few logs is probably not the same as hunting a bear or maybe a sabre toothed tiger.

As a chimney sweep we do not have to understand the hidden psychological reasons why we are drawn to fire but if you are like me then you will be fascinated in all that encompasses our job including the hidden, the history and even the mythology.

I am not sure we have come as far as we like to believe from our humble beginnings as cave dwellers, just think fire works, a camp fire or maybe stone baked pizza.

I hope you have enjoyed my little insite into fire and that you take the time to like and share with your friends

Wishing you a happy and safe burning season

Daniel Hodgson

 

 

 

 

 

Professional, tar and chimney sweep London

Posted by & filed under chimney sweeping tips and tricks.

Hello fellow chimney professionals

Todays blog is a really important one about the differences between a wood only appliance and a multi fuel version. It covers what you need to know and what to teach your customer.

I wrote this article after speaking to many customers over many years who insist that it is the right thing to burn wood of an evening and then add coal before bed, close down the air and slumber the appliance overnight, or to burn coal and then throw on a log when they want more flame picture.

So why is mixing fuels a problem?

Wood and coal burn quite differently, wood burns through a process of gasification where the volatile oils within become heated, turn to a gas, mix with oxygen above the log and eventually combust.

Coal on the other hand is primarily a carbon burn where oxygen must enter and mix from below the fuel as combustion takes place inside and not above the coal itself.

The differences between the two types of appliances

Wood only appliances

Typically wood only appliances have only one air control, this will allow to enter the stove, preheat in a chamber or baffle, it will then be directed above the log where the volatile hydrocarbons are mixed with the intake of oxygen vigorously before combusting, heating more intake air and eventually up and out of the chimney.

A wood only grate jotul f100

 

Multi Fuel Appliances

A typical multi fuel stove will have two air intakes one situated at high level to accommodate the gaseous burn of wood and one below a riddling grade to accommodate low level combustion air for coal.

A Charnwood multi fuel grate. 

Why is it foolhardy to burn both fuel types together?

Scenario one wood on top of coal

If we try to burn wood above a bed of coal we will need to open the top air intake drawing air above the coal and not through it. When this happens the coal which is burning poorly  produces high levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, in doing so our wood gasses which  should be bathed in oxygen are now shrouded in the same fire suppressant that is in the black fire extinguishers. The affect is compounded by the adequate heat from the coal, what happens is that the wood pyrolysis in the heat, volatiles hydrocarbons are emitted and become gaseous. Normally these hot gasses mix with oxygen and burn with the yellow flame we associate with wood however in the reduced oxygen environment above a coal bed the volatile gas emitted by the wood log will travel into the chimney where it will deposit as flammable creosote. The final issue when combustion temperatures and oxygen levels  are too low is the later hotter stages of gaseous combustion will not effectively take place. During these later phases carbon soot particles should be burned, if they are not they will exit the chimney as fine dust pollution harming our air quality and shortening our lives.

Gaseous wood combustion

Scenario two coal on top of wood.

We now understand that coal requires oxygen from below to burn effectively, think bellows in a foundry.  If we burn wood below a coal bed we will have a situation where our coal is bathed in carbon dioxide leaving an incomplete burn. The second issue here is that wood produces lots of ash which in turn blocks the riddle grate further lowering the amount of available oxygen to the coal.  If the coal used is smokeless coal then high levels of sulphurous compounds will also be emitted, these compounds are highly corrosive and will eat through stainless steel liners in no time. The one exception to the wood underneath  coal scenario is kindling a fire with wood where it is very likely that the air intakes or even the door will be open in order to provide enough oxygen for both fuels for a limited time.

Historically blacksmiths used a belows to pump air below the coal. Nowadays they inject neat oxygen or us a pumped fan.

Coal does not burn without oxygen

Appliance controls

After reading the above you will likely see the insanity of using both air controls at the same time while mixing different fuels. The appliance is very unlikely to have been designed to have both air controls open at once. E.g. If we have the wood air control open while burning coal air will be drawn in above where it needs to be which is below the grate as such the coal will never burn efficiently if at all.

What typically needs to happen is to use only one control at a time while the other remains closed, this ensures that combustion air is drawn in at the right place for a given fuels needs. I am sure  you have likely juggled both controls with both fuel types at some time as we all have with varied results.

Grate design

A coal or smokeless coal Grate will be designed with fingers or large holes which allow air to enter from below. These often have a griddle system which allows the removal of ash that will block the path of oxygen to the fuel if left.

A typical wood only Grate will be flat with no holes below, it may even Consist of fire clays  that are solid.  It is normal for wood to burn on a bed of ash, the ash acts as an insulator protecting the base and also controls the rate of combustion by not exposing the entire log to oxygen and heat at the same time.

Conclusion

The biggest cause of chimney fire by a country mile is the way that the consumer uses their appliance. It is impertitive to ingrain good burning practices. This information is not openly available and as such we; that is the chimney professionals have an obligation to both learn and impart this knowledge on our clients so that they are burning safely, efficiently and not unnecessarily harming our environment.

Multi fuel stoves are designed to burn wood and coal/ smokeless coal just not at the same time. A wood only appliance is just that and must never be used to burn coal.

Thanks for reading I hope you have enjoyed and maybe learned a little too. Please be so kind as to like, share and feel free to comment

kindest regards

Daniel Hodgson

master chimney sweep

 

 

 

COPD can effect chimney sweeps

Posted by & filed under chimney sweeping tips and tricks.

Hello fellow Chimney Sweeps
Today I am writing this article in response to questions I have been asked on social media. The question is why do I need HEPA level filtration (High Efficiency Particulate Air) on my vacuum cleaner when I can buy a similar model which does not have a HEPA cartridge for very much less money.

In order for me to answer this question we must understand some things first: 1 what is soot?. 2 how bad is it for me? and 3 how big are the particles?

I will answer the question of how big are the particles first with help from the below illustration.

The size of a typical soot particle

Pm10 pm 25 particulates

 

Standard traditional  filters are simply not fine enough to catch the fine particles. Soot particles are between PM 10 and PM 2.5 or smaller to make a comparison the thickness of a human hair is between PM 50 and PM 70. PM simply stands for picometer. The fine dust pollution that the government is concerned with at present is this exact same size. The primary airborne cause of this fine dust in the U.K. Is older diesel engines such as those found in cars, black cabs,  busses, trains, lorries and to a lesser extent wood stoves.

A HEPA filter does not catch particles using a fine mesh or sieve as any meshing that fine would not  allow a great enough  airflow,  instead HEPA generally uses electro static attraction, a process where particles are forced to change direction forcing them into the fibres  or similar process. This is the reason that HEPA cartridges cannot be washed as the positive or negative charge or sticky ness of the filter is damaged or destroyed by the washing process and water.

Chimney sweeps must use Hepa filters

HEPA filtration was invented for the nasty particles of the nuclear industry. Although HEPA is very good some VOCs are smaller still and require activated carbon filters to catch.

 

Answering the first question of how bad is soot for me is also asking what makes up the constituent parts of the products that we clean from our chimneys?

Soots constituents:

Simple Carbon, Acrolein, formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, naphthaline, other poly cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and silicone.
As you can see in the list of parts there is some pretty high risk stuff in there many of which are in the highest risk`E` classification when doing your COSHH assessments even at concentrations of <1% of total product.
We should never forget that Soot is not black dirt, it is a byproduct of incomplete combustion and it really did  kill of all of the chimney climbing boys

 

As a further tip bit of information the very first industrial disease studied was scrotal cancer caused by exposure to soot which was discovered  by Mr Percivall Pott in 1755. Mr Pott was a surgeon  in the United Kingdom his work eventually  helped lead towards the chimney sweepers act in 1788

Founder of industrial disease

If you do some research you will see that much of the smell that comes from your vacuum is actually very fine particles of potentially very dangerous compounds these VOCs  could be finding their way through your ineffective filters before being heated and  in some cases vaporised and volitised by the hot motors. Associated with this are fine carbon particles which could also find their way into your lungs forever.

 

conclusion

Soot contains both carbon particles, fly ash and volatile organic compounds.  The fine carbon particles < pm 10m are what is responsible in part to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the VOCs are carcinogens. This is the 21st century we know better nowadays. Repeating the terrible days of the chimney boys is madness.

So in short buy a HEPA vacuum or upgrade yours with a HEPA cartridge, you will not stop every last voc particle with HEPA  but you will limit your exposure and minimise the risks to yourself and your customers home.

Do not buy a vavuum that is Hepa like, purchase a True Hepa rated vacuum that is designed for soot particles, if you are unsure get something in writing from the manufacturer.

I hope that you have enjoyed my blog today and that if you one of those chimney sweeps that don’t yet use a Hepa vac maybe I have helped convince you.

Thanks for reading, please be so kind as to Like, Share and comment.

kindest regards

Daniel Hodgson

 

 

 

 

The smoke in londons referred to as smog

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Hello fellow chimney sweeps and interested consumers.

Todays blog is about the smoke control laws  that we must abide by today and a little history too.

Everyone has seen the old Sherlock Holmes scenes of old London Town with a passing chimney sweep and a whole lot of fog, well this fog was actually a smog, a mixture of smoke, particulates and fog. The excess of smoke was from the industrial revolution which was powered by coal and although this lovely black stuff made the U.K. Quite rich  the same smog was responsible for the shortened lives of many city dwellers. Continueing on London and the major cities populations saw an expenential growth of population following the Second World War and by the 1950s/60s the sky line of London was yellow grey with smog from industry and the raw coal people were burning. During this post war period  a law was enacted to ban the use of fuels that were partly causing this smog phenomenon the smokeless acts of 1956 and 1968. These laws made it illegal to burn most fossil fuels and wood in many major towns and cities within the UK. These laws were coupled with new legislation for factories.

Using smokeless fuels today we can avoid the smog

Did these new laws work?

Well yes they did  help greatly in reducing sulphur dioxide and other dangerous airborne pollutants. Previously occurrences of lung diseases such as COPD were very high and life expectancy was reduced. Since  the new laws things have changed positively with a reduction in respiratory ailments and an expended lifespan on average. With the onset of pm 10 and pm 25 particulates from oil and diesel some of these conditions are beginning to return, who knows where that particular road will lead.

 The down side

The smoke control acts of the 1950/60s worked great to reduce airborne pollutants but they had an unexpected side effect, the UKs reliance on coal as a fuel and the associated industries were wiped out overnight and a new reliance on natural gas was forged. This had a cosmic change in the UKs economy leading to mass unemployment in some mining areas and a legacy  which still exists today. My own company Clean Sweep was formed when my Granfather who was a pit miner in Blythe near Newcastle took the decision to leave for the city in 1964 to become a chimney sweep.

Painfully, today  the uk is sitting on top of around 250 years worth of high grade coal which we are not ever likely to use.

Who’s in charge?

Smoke control laws today are inforced by local authorities. DEFRA has the overall say, that is the department for environment, food and rural affairs. European legislation has a major say on air quality in general.

Defra sets the rules for smokeless fuels in the uk

 

 

So what can I burn?

If you are within  smoke controlled area you must not burn wood, house coal, petroleum coke,  waste or any  other non approved fuel.

Approved fuels include;  some smokeless coals, oil and natural gas.

exceptions:

If you have an appliance  that is exempted under  defra you may burn the fuel which the exemption is for, typically wood with  suitably low moisture content.

Some local authorities allow kindling wood to light the fire.

Approved smokeless coals can be burned in a suitable appliance.  HETAS approve many fuels and their guide can be used as a reference as to which fuels are suitable. Please be aware that many stainless steel liners are not suited for burning smokeless fuel continuously and will rot out quickly.

Ironically in many local authorities it us permissible to burn wood on a bonfire, fire pit or chimnea if it is not connected to a chimney?

As there is a possible £1000 fine for breaching smoke control laws it us best practice to contact your particular local authority to ensure that you do not fall on the wrong side of the law.

Detection

The primary method with which local authorities typically catch offenders breaching the law is to send along an environmental health officer who will hold up a colour swatch to make a comparison with the smoke exiting the chimney and the ‘allowed colour’ during their visit they may also check fuel that is stored for use. It should be noted that this only really occurs after a complaint.

Chimney experts say don't get fined.

In conclusion

Smokeless fuels, areas and appliances can be a bit of a mine field with a possible heavy fine for getting it wrong. It is best practice to select your fuels from the Hetas approved fuels list. Appliances must be defra approved for smoke control areas if you wish to burn fuels which are not themselves exempted.

please be so kind as to like share and follow this post.

kindest regards

Daniel Hodgson

master chimneysweep

 

 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often caused by back syphonage

Posted by & filed under chimney sweeping tips and tricks.

Hello all and welcome

In one of our previous blogs smoking back symptoms causes and cures¬†you learned about different types of smoking back and their causes. In today’s blog we are going to look into the specifics of one such situation which is the competition for available air and back syphonage.

Firstly when looking to understand the phenomenon of the competition for available air we must first look at the chimney and how it interacts holistically with the rest of the house. Ok, so we know that when we burn our natural draught appliance it consumes air for combustion, it also warms air which then  rises through buoyancy affect and this also leaves via the chimney. This same air in general comes from within the fabric of the property after it enters through air vents so in some ways you can think of the entire house as an extended  mouth of the  fire place or stove feeding it the sir that is required.

Natural draught

Following on from above, as air exits the fabric of the building via the chimney it is likely that the pressure within will be lowered Unless it is fully replaced by X route or method. luckily a natural draught chimney only works on a very low negative pressure typically <25 Pascals and as such does not demand so much air from the building. Now let’s add a second appliance into the the same air space, it is now plausible that there may not be enough available air for both appliances simultaneously, if one of the appliances has a stronger draught due to extra heat or flue length then the weaker of the two chimneys may become the source of combustion air in a back syphonage scenario. Sucking both air and toxic smoke back into the building.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur this way.

Mechanical extract ventilation

So, we learned above that a natural draught chimney has a vacuum rating of <25pa that’s a pretty small number when you consider that one atmosphere of the air we breath has a pressure rating of 101325 PA and we all know we still cannot sense or feel that, makes you wonder why the old timers say that they can feel the chimney draught with their hands?. Anyway I’m getting off track so what if we now have a scenario where we have a natural draught chimney and a mechanical extract fan in the same place. An electric extract fan is in effect a pump for air and can move huge volumes quickly, here’s a quick example a typical bathroom or kitchen extract fan with suck 47L per second ¬†or 168m3 per hour. ¬†So if the room has a volume of 55m3/h this little fan will empty it of all of its available air three times per hour. Now compare that to an average 5kw stove that requires no air vent within the uk, the stove will typically utilise 40 to 80m3/h.Now if we add our 168m3/h to or 40 m3/h we have a whopping 208m3/h which is hard to achieve without a sizeable vent or even an open window. In some countries in Europe it is now required to fit a magnetic switch on the windows of any room that has extract ventilation and a natural draught appliance so that the fan cannot run unless the window is open.

Appliance to be aware of that can contain mechanical fans include; tumble dryers, other boilers specifically gas and oil, kitchen over hoods, ventaxias, some mechanical air to air heat exchangers and air conditioners.

 

Chimney sweeps should check tumble dryers fit extractors

Open upstairs windows, loft hatches and leaky uninsulated roofs.

Thinking about the house a a whole again it is possible and likely that hot air within hallways and connecting spaces can and will rise up as it is heated by the appliance or central heating working like a chimney in itself. Air can  exit through the badly insulated roof, an open upstairs window specifically ones in the roof or even an open loft hatch. As this air exits the building it leaves a depressurised zone behind if the pressure is low enough then it can reverse the flow of working chimneys causing smoking back and possible poisoning by CO.

Conclusion what must you do?

  • Close all ¬†external windows, loft hatches and doors prior to the chimney testing
  • Run all extract ventilation equipment at 100% for up to 15 minutes and measure the negative pressure in the room utilising the 4 Pascal test developed by Wohler. This can be checked with smoke but it can be messy and inaccurate.
  • Check you local laws and bylaws to see if extract ventilation is allowed in the room or the shared air space of a natural draught appliance alternatley if a window switch is required.
  • In the UK no two natural draughty appliances should share the same room, check to see if the adjoining wall gas been removed.
  • Check all air vents serving the air space and ensure that they too are clean and compliant.
  • A chimney sweep must educated themselves continuously

     

    I hope that you have found today’s blog useful, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask. If you would be so kind as to like and share too. If you require further advice from a professional chimney sweep, clean sweep chimney service, London please feel free to ask.

Kindest regards

Daniel Hodgson master Chimney sweep

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under chimney sweeping tips and tricks.

Hello and welcome to my blog today.

There are several distinct types of smoking back into the room of the appliance, there are strong telltale signs of the type and what may be causing them, I will break them down into customer descriptions or symptoms.

  • Symptoms: The chimney smokes back into the room after some time, the smoke seems to gulp or pulse as if pouring wine out a full bottle.Chimney sweeps check for ventilation

The above type of smoking back typically describes a lack of ventilation in the room where the appliance is sited. As warm heated air rises up the flue to the outside the room gradually depressurises, as the room pressure lowers without the advent of additional air from a vent or window then the vacuum of the room can cause air to be drawn down the chimney in a gulping fashion, exacty as when you pour wine. If there was a small hole in the base of the wine bottle then it would flow freely as the pressure out would be equalled by the pressure in. There is a very simple test which is as easy as opening an outside window to the room when this backsmoking  occurs. The 4pa test can also give accurate measurements of available combustion air without all the smoke and fumes. The remedy for this problem is usually as simple as adding an air vent.

  • Symptoms: The chimney immediately or after a few moments smokes back when I try to light a fire and it doesn’t get any better. The whole room fills with smoke.

The above symptom most commonly refers to a total or near complete blockage. Possible causes can be; closed dampers, caps in or on chimney pots, heavy soot build up, epanded creosote from a chimney fire, birdsnests, fallen debris and a myriad of other potential things. After first checking for the obvious with a torch and mirror it might be time to break out the chimney camera and take a peek inside.

  • Symptoms: Occasional smoking back where the smoke can intermittently change direction often when the wind blows.

This type of smoking back is often referred to as a wind induced down draught, it often occurs when the wind is coming from the direction of a taller building or tree, the wind has to travel a longer distance over the surface when compared to the air above causing a lower pressure on one side that’s the other just like an airplane wing. This results in air being directed down the flue. I know of several fixes for this phenomenon, the best of which is cutting down the offending tree or demolishing said building however this is not always practical. In some conditions a rotary cowlings can work to solve this problem H pots are excellent with this type of down draught but are expensive and heavy.

  • Symptoms: ¬†Whenever the wind blows towards X object which is close to ¬†and taller than the chimney the smoke changes direction and pushes into the room.Clean sweep are expert in resolving down draught.

This statement often relates to a positive pressure down draught, When the  wind pushes Towards and hits a physical object such as a loft conversion, tree, building  or even hillside a hig pressure bubble or area is formed. If the chimney termination is within this high pressure  one then air will be pumped down the chimney. Fixing this is the easiest to say but often the hardest to achieve, you simply extend the chimney out of the high pressure zone. As this is sometimes unachievable a mechanical chimney fan might be the only other option.

  • At around x o’clock ¬†the chimney seems to start working in reverse

You would typically hear this from the landlord of a public house, hotel or restaurant and X o’clock often corresponds to the time when the kitchen opens. This phenomenon is often directly attributable to the exhaust fans in the kitchen area which are very powerful and are able to depressurise the entire building very quickly. An easy fix for this is to intstall a larger diameter intake fan than the extract thus ensuring that there is always positive pressure within the building fabric.

  • The smoke is lazy and slow and there might be occasional leakage into the room

A lazy updraught if often the biggest problem to diagnose, it can be caused by a myriad of things the most obvious being that the chimney requires sweeping and is partially blocked. Other causes may be, poor design, partial blockage, a cold chimney, a hot day, and damaged components or a leaking flue you know how hard it is to suck milkshake through a straw with a split in it right? If you suspect a leak you must advise a pressure test  to confirm wether or not the chimney requires relining.

 

I hope you have found this blog useful and that the knowledge helps you better serve your clients as it has us

please like share and comment

kindest regards

Daniel Hodgson

Master Chimney sweep

 

Chimney sweep London

Posted by & filed under chimney sweeping tips and tricks.

Hello all and welcome to our educational blog today.

there are many types of brushes, whips and stars on the market today some of them will help you do your job better, cleaner and more efficiently than the competition so on what occasions do you select which brush?

there are two important rules in brush selection prior to undertaking a given job.

  1. Always look into the flue preferably using a mirror /torch and ascertain what type of soot, how much of it you can see  and more importantly judge how hard the deposits are.Chimney sweep danny hodgson
  2. The harder the deposits the harder or more abrasive the brush or whip will have to be in order to be effective.

I wil describe some brush and whip types and their possible uses starting with the least abrasive.

  • Perlon viper heads or brushes.
Chimney sweep brush

Perlon is a very soft material, it is suited to gas flues to remove cobwebs or some pellet systems where the soot to be removed is very soft and of minimal volume. Cobwebs stick to the Perlon when sweeping too.

  • Horsehair and Woodstock

Yes we still have a few of these antiquated brushes although they are quickly being replaced with Mole brushes. We use them exclusively when sweeping oil boiler flues where dust control might be an issue. ¬†Utilising a ‘swabbing’ action to wipe the sticky dust of nightmares very carefully from the flues.

  • Soft nylon brushes
Chimney sweep brush

These type of brushes can be utilised on larger gas flues such as with the devorative fuel effect gas fires fitted in londons terrace houses which have a 9″ brick flue, often ¬†lined with a lime render. It can also be used when burning house coal or wood in an efficient appliance so that the products of combustion are well burned.

  • Mole brushes
Chimney sweep brush

Mole brushes are a new innovation in sweeping they can utilise rotary or traditional methods and are also very soft. They can be used safely in most liners and are great in unlined brick flues. These again are suited to soft soot specifically from clean wood burning  but can remove it much quicker than a traditional brush and with less effort when used with a rotary system. Moles are particularly good for a chimney sweep in London or other city with Victorian houses. Larger moles are also useful in Thatched properties with large inglenook type flues which are often lined with a parjette mixture.

  • Wohler or Ress stainless steel viper starsChimney sweep Wohler viper star

 

When sweeping rigid steel or ceramic chimney systems the star head attachment for the viper is excellent, it utilises a cutting action of the soot from the flue walls with its diamond pattern so requires very little effort. It is also very quick indeed when using the viper or rope and star methods. Warning it’s very important to use ONLY stainless steel and not mild steel within stainless steel chimneys as mild steel will make them rust and rot out.

  • Stiff nylon brushes¬†For coal or wood a stiff chimney sweep brush can be used

Importantly ¬†these stiffer brushes require more effort to use as they are designed to clean harder deposits from smokeless coal, wood, coal or Peat. These are often replaced nowadays ¬†with a whip head as it’s much less physical work and results in far less ¬†sweat, however a professional chimney sweep should still carry them for when a rotary method is not appropriate or in the event that a drill may break or even batteries run flat.

  • Rotary flails/ whips
Cre away creosote removerChimney sweeping with rotary method

Rotary flails and whips excel at cleaning harder deposits, care should be taken when used in some chimneys as they can be abrasive. They are easily the best method to clear a birds nest without all of the associated physicalality, calluses and sore hands. Flails are awesome when sweeping flaky or expanded creosote or the hard crusty deposits left behind when burning some smokeless coals. At Clean sweep we use a Death Star type Rotary flail following cre away treatments as it make short work of the modified creosote. It is my advice for any chimney sweep to undertake an additional rotary sweeping course if you wish to utilise these advanced systems.

  • Wire brushes or mixed wire with nylon.

My advice here is simple dont bother its silly buy a good whip head and use a rotary system. These were great in there Day but are too much like hard work today.

  • Finally the bad boys, rotary chains or cable heads.
Removing smokeless coal klinker with a chain flainChimney sweep flail

Firslty these must not be used by anyone who is not expert in their trade and who has a great understanding of the chimney type and construction as these are very abrasive and can easily damage or destroy. That said they can be a viable option when removing some harder creosote types or removing stubborn nests within a suitable flue.

In conclusion start with the softest head you think is appropriate first. It will be easier and the least abrasive, if this clears all the soot great, if not move up to the next abrasion level.

some hard deposits of creosote are impossible to remove with abrasive methods, a chemical creosote removal method must first be utilised.

I hope that you have enjoyed my blog and that you take the time to share comment and follow.

kindest regards

Daniel Hodgson

master chimney sweep

 

I would like to thank Rotary power sweeping and the Wakefield brush company for use of their pictures.

 

 

 

Chimney sweep Newcastle

Posted by & filed under The history of chimney sweeps, Uncategorized.

 

Hello all.

Chimney sweepings brutal history

Chimney sweeping using slaves or low paid labour goes back a very long time indeed, some of the first references to chimney sweeps were in Roman times before the time of the times of Christ so we are talking BC not AD.
Roman swimming pools and baths were build on top of an underfloor heating system called a hypocaust, this was basically an intricate chimney with an associated stack. This was an ingenious method of heating a pool but of course being essentially a big wet stove burning lots of wood it needed its flue ways cleaning. In those days a specific chimney sweeping slave was used. They would be slim and petite and able to fit in the crawl space beneath. Life was very short for these people. If someone died during the work the body was often left for the next chimney sweep to clean out.

Sweeping chimneys of pools

Moving through the ages of course the romans left Britain but their legacy remained. Chimney sweeping remained the job of the lowest paid or that of forced labour. Typically using children due to their small size and because they simply didn’t eat very much and did what was demanded of them.

It was typical for chimney climbing boys to die before adulthood they would spend their short lives hungry and working inside of hot black chimneys filled with acidic soot with no protective clothing and often no shoes while their master or owner would live a life of relative luxury. There are stories of young chimney sweeps being forced into chimneys that are in use and of cruel masters that would pin or burn the feet of those who refused to climb.

In the unlikely event a chimney climbing boy would grow too large for the chimneys they had to fit within they would have simply been discarded to starve and replaced with a new smaller younger version. Maybe they would be lucky enough to live out their days in the workhouse.

This picture is of a huge horizontal chimney which would have been pitch black, full of acrid fumes and still hot while cleaned.

Chimney sweep boys of london

Although this blog is mostly from an English perspective this brutal trade was not isolated within the uk, in fact it was the norm in the United States and all across Europe. I m just not privy to the law changes in those countries so cannot speak knowledgeable on it.

Below is a picture of four Afro Caribbean climbing boys taken in New York

Chimney sweep New York

 

There are several important historic dates that document the beginning of the end to the chimney climbing boys in Great Britain and a slow change towards where we are today.

In 1788 According to the professional chimney service in London and South Essex, Clean Sweep, there was a bill passed in parliament decreeing that no child under the age of eight years would be allowed to be used for the purpose of chimney climbing and cleaning. Unfortunately this was almost completely ignored. Around 1800 a pressure group was formed the society superseding the need of the climbing boys. This group set about pushing the design of brushes and rods as a viable alternative to children and lobbying parliament.

A original report for the House of Commons submitted by the committee whose rome it was to find alternative sweeping methods dated 1817

Report the committee of the chimney climbing boys

1834 A new act was brought into law stating that a child must express his own desire in front of a magistrate to be a chimney boy or chimney sweeper and is willing to work for his employer.

In 1840 an act of parliament was passed to stop the forcing or compelling of anyone under the age if 21 to sweep or climb chimneys and shafts. It led to the local police becoming empowered to licence local chimney sweeps so that it was illegal to trade in England without first gaining a licence. One such original licence can be seen below thanks to mr Rob Wildgoose.

An original chimney sweeping licence from 1924 England

Chimney sweeping certificate

1875 was the date parliament brought about the end of the chimney climbing boys and a brutal trade in children officially ended. Is followed the death of a young climbing boy in London’s Shaftesbury hospital.

As you can see our now fun and interesting job was once a story of brutal slavery. The next time you complain about the extra paperwork, the health and safety hoops we have to jump through or even the long winter days, take a moment to reflect how lucky we are to have been born in more recent times.

Please take the time to like this blog and share with your colleagues and friends.

Daniel Hodgson
Master chimney sweep

 

Lucked wedding chimney sweeper

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

 

Hello all

Welcome to today’s blog where you will learn a little history about chimney sweeps and the possible origins of being lucky and wearing a top hat.

origin one lucky beginnings

The oldest of the stories goes back a very long way to king William of Britain way back in 1087/1100 nearly a thousand years past.

Lucky Schornsteinfeger
The story goes that while the king was walking a runaway carriage which was headed for his daughter was stopped by a brave man who happened to be a chimney sweep.
Later the king decreed that chimney sweeps are of lucky character. Out of gratitude king William invited the chimney sweep to the wedding of his daughter in order to both say thank you and bring some luck.

This is the first reference I can find to why chimney sweeps are considered lucky to have in  attendencce at weddings.

Top Hat origins

 

 Top hats and chimney sweeps go back to 1700

origin two and Why top hats?

A more recent story and maybe the origin of the top hat was that of another king of England. This time King George the second during his reign in the 1700s.
It was told that a mad growling dog startled the kings mount, causing it to buck and attempt to throw the king. A chimney sweep dressed in rags rushed through the crowd of onlookers catching the horse by its reigns and settling him. King Charles thanked the sweep by announcing that from that day forth chimney sweeps would be the only labour based job to be able to wear the clothing and top hat of the gentry and professions. In those days I can imagine that this was a huge honour going from rags to wearing the cloths of a professional person that people must dip their hat too. The king also announced that chimney sweeps were lucky.

The second origin of chimney sweep luck

 

Over the following centuries these lucky beginnings spread across Europe and in more recent times, the United States and even as far as Japan. Of all the traditions in the world that have been lost the chimney sweep and their top had and tunic is still going strong today.
Some examples of the luck of sweeps are: In Germany it is usual for a member of the public to rub the golden buttons of the sweep for luck. In Holland their are lucky chimney sweeping pigs, in Poland a person may touch metal or wood when they see the sweep.
In the UK people still invite the sweep to their most sacred day their wedding, in a hope to bring some luck and children still today run out into the street to see the sweeps brush and make a wish.

Top hat, lucky sweep, chimney sweeping tunic

Did you know the sweeping tunic was originally made with thirteen buttons in order to bring luck to the unlucky number?

Gl√ľcksbringer

 

I hope you have enjoyed my story if luck and top hats, I would be happy if you would click the follow button on the top left of the screen.

Many thanks fellow luck bringers
Daniel H

 

Posted by & filed under Chimney Service Blog.

hello all,

I have been in the chimney sweeping industry in the uk for over twenty years and at every level from an apprentice to company owner to Guild of master chimney sweeps chairman. I have learned many things in this time, the number one thing I have learned is that we are always learning. I put this post together to share some tips that have worked for my companies over the years I hope you can use them too.

 Tips

  1. Educate yourself and your workforce. This may seem obvious but many companies slip, they do an initial course and that’s it. ¬†Why do I like training so much? ¬†Well it adds value to your product allowing you not to be embarrassed when you charge x as you know you are worth it. Secondly customers find confidence in expertise. ¬†Thirdly old timers can tell if you truly know your stuff just by talking with you, make sure you do. I have chosen the Guild of master chimney sweeps and Hetas route for educating my Staff at clean sweep chimney¬†services , you chose what is best for you and your company.Be the best chimney sweep you can be.
  2. Automatically book next years sweeps on this years visit. ¬†This has several benefits that range from having a full diary next year to increasing customer safety from them not missing Sweeping intervals. Carry a diary with you in the van. Don’t be shy if your customer is pleased with your service then their usually happy to pre book. Send them a text or email a week before their chimney sweep is due the following year as a reminder.Beat the competition and pre book
  3. Do not set yourself up for failures, ¬†ok so what do I mean here? Here’s an example: you give your chimney sweep customer a 1 hour time slot without knowing how long you will be on the Job prior , how long traffic will take and if you apprentice will be on time and now your late. A happy customer is now annoyed as they only had 1 hour spare and now have to go back to work without having their chimney sweep. Why not just book morning or afternoon slots.Keep your customers happy be a professional chimney sweep
  4. Be equipped.  It is hard enough finding work without having to leave a job without completing it. Make sure you have all of the tools and equipment that you require for your everyday work. Not being properly tooled for the chimney sweeping job makes you a bodger if you attempt work you dont have the kit for, it looks bad and does not instil confidence.Chimney sweep equipment
  5. Plan your working day, booking  chimney sweep jobs several days ahead rather than tomorrow will allow you to properly plan a rout which can accommodate more jobs in one day. Plan your route in the shape of a horseshoe, start at point a and finish where you started. Chimney sweeping expert routThe chimney sweeping season is only a few months long in the UK and if you do not pay your bills in these months then summer will not  be fun.
  6. Service vans and equipment before the chimney sweeping busy season starts. Well this is self explanatory but if you want to make appointments and keep your customers happy it’s a must.Never miss a chimney sweep job
  7. Finally do your math. do not base your charges on what some other person charges. They must be based on what your product is worth and what is required for you to make a fair profit after overheads and running costs.  It is very likely that if you are charging the same sum as the next guy you will not have done your sums and will be basing your company on theirs. Well is it the same?Bad maths - bad company

I hope that you find these tips as valuable as I did.

wishing you all the best and happy sweeping.