Posts Tagged ‘chimney service’

Heads Up! You never know what you’ll find on a chimney.

August 12th, 2012

I found myself eye to eye with this little guy!


A customer called me today and said the cap I had installed last year must not be doing its job. “Something has died in my chimney”.

When I stopped by to check on her, everything looked ok from the ground, the cap was still up there. But boy when you came into the house it sure smelt like a dead animal to me and the closer you got to the fireplace the worst it got.

There was nothing in the fireplace, up the flue or behind the damper. This was crazy. Where was that smell coming from?

I put my ladder up and when I climbed to the top of the chimney, this little guy was staring at me, well what was left of him that is.



Hawks and owls typically prey upon ground dwelling mammals such as mice, vole, rats, squirrels and rabbits.

Apparently this Hawk dined and dashed.

How We Got A Bird Out Of Our Wood Stove Chimney, by VivBounty

May 23rd, 2012

Last spring, our second one living out in the country, we heard something fluttering about in the chimney. From the second floor outside my bathroom door where the chimney runs up to the roof I heard it. Because there was no chirping, just scratching, knocking and fluttering, I assumed it was a bat, but that’s subject for another hub.

I came downstairs to the main level and walked past the wood stove hearing the cafuffle again. Not knowing much about physics, I assumed this little creature was fluttering up and down the chimney trying to fly vertically out the top. I did what any wife would do, called my husband and told him there’s something in the chimney and to please get it out. He looked at me aghast and said that would involve dismantling chimney and once you do that “these things never seal again…what about carbon monoxide…” and waffled on trying to disuade me with logistics.

I was not to be put off. I went upstairs again and heard it this fluttering thinking it could hear me go to each level and was following me up and down to plead its case for release. My husband logically and patronizingly said that basic physics states that sound travels further and better through anything heavier than air so the density of the chimney caused the fluttering to echo up through it. whatever is in there, he added likely could not fly vertically. He surmised that eventually it would die in there and we’d clean it out in the fall. I was mortified at something dying anywhere, nevermind in my chimney, if I could help it.

As our wood stove has a glass door, we guessed that it was probably attracted by the light. On the morning of day 3 I couldn’t stand it any more. I opened the glass door and looked up into the stove seeing only narrow vents through which I was convinced not even a mouse would fit. Closing the door I got a dark coloured towel to cover it blocking the light hoping that would cease to attract our trapped friend and went through the den to make breakfast in the adjoining kitchen. I then heard a small thud and scratching in the cold ashes on the floor of the stove. I immediately ran to get a flashlight, lifted the towel, shone the light into the stove to see a little bird so black as it was covered in soot about the size and shape of a sparrow. The air flow from the opening of the stove door must’ve enticed it to fight its way through those tiny vents in search of an escape route.

Squealing, I called out to my husband, “Oh look Honey, it’s a little birdie, poor thing. Go get a bag so we can catch it and let it out!”. Now it was his turn be mortified. He thought he was going to get off without having to get involved in this process. NOT. I went to find a large garbage bag, but found it did not fit over the door of the stove. Having just moved to Canada from Spain we had a trunk full of linens which did not fit our Canadian beds To my surprise the opening of the single bed duvet cover was too small to fit over the stove door. There was much toing and froing up and down the stairs to the linen trunk until finally the double duvet cover’s opening was just large enough to cover the whole front of the stove.

Finally engaged and convinced we could actually free this bird, my hubby agreed to hold one side of the sheet over the stove while I held the other side tightly so that it didn’t escape to fly around the house making a sooty mess. With the fron of the stove covered I opened the door for the bird to fly into the huge duvet cover. It headed for a little space near my husband’s hand as he, being the gentle giant that he is, wasn’t holding his side as tightly as mine. We twisted ends until the opening was sealed and fanned the rest of the duvet cover about enticing the bird to fly into it which it did right to the bottom of the sewed end. This allowed us to remove the open end from over the stove, twist it closed like you would to wring your laundry and carried the bird in the duvet cover outside to set it free. It took some doing to coax it all the way back from inside the closed end towards the opening. Rolling the sewed end up as it panicked and fluttered trying to escape it finally worked its way out through the opening uninjured flying skyward with no effort at all.

We often wonder if the little bird chirping in our huge maple outside our bedroom window each morning is our freed friend saying “good morning” and thanking us for its freedom sometimes even imitating the sound of our wake up call on the cell phone. Ironically, it is I who is thankful for the honour of being in harmony with nature around us.

Chimney sweep discovers bomb

May 16th, 2012

A German chimney sweep discovered an unexploded World War Two bomb stashed in the fireplace of a house.


Houses were evacuated and Surbiton Hill Park in Berrylands was closed when the missile-looking package was discovered on Friday, December 3.

The owner

 of the house felt so guilty she bought a round of drinks at a nearby pub for neighbours who had been forced out of their houses.

Chimney sweep Carsten Bergmann, 40, from Sutton, reached inside the disused chimney, which he estimated had not been cleaned for about 30 years, and found the bomb.

He said: “This is the oddest thing I have ever found.

“I was sweeping inside the chimney and felt something loose. I pulled it out and got a big surprise.

“It was about 20cm long but was big enough to blow up a tank.

“I was scared but I knew without a weapon you cannot explode them. Normally on bombs you have a firing switch that is broken if it has already gone off. It was unused so it could have been live.”

Louise Ridout, a 30-year-old marketing manager, hired 1-2-C Chimney Sweep after moving into the house with her partner a few weeks ago.


She said: “I have no idea how long it had been here.

“Most of my neighbours said it was better to know now than for our houses to blow up.”

She said the bomb had been found in a compartment of the chimney, not down the flue, suggesting it had been put there, rather than having fallen down the chimney.

The Metropolitan Police’s specialist bomb squad checked the bomb to see if it was live, after being called at 4.44pm.

Ten minutes later the Chilterns, Surbiton Hill Park and the Royston were closed, diverting traffic including the K2 bus. The road was re-opened at 5.42pm.

Amber D. is living with a young Chimney Sweep

May 1st, 2012

living with a chimney sweep

It started out innocently enough last Thursday.  He wanted to be a chimney sweep.  Not just any chimney sweep.  He was very specific.  He wanted to be “Dick Van Dyke acting the part of Burt, the chimney sweep” from Mary Poppins.  Okay then.

The next day was the same.  As was the next.  He played with his little brother but “as a chimney sweep” only.  We went out to a restaurant.  We went to a few stores.  We went about our normal business except that for the last six days I have had a chimney sweep for a son.  Soot and all.


On all these outings, only one person questioned us while we were in line at a kid’s clothing store exchanging something.  A woman in line next to us nearly collapsed from concern and asked me, “Did he fall down?  What are all the bruises on his face from?”  I swear she was reaching for her cell phone, ready to call Child Protective Services.  ”Uh, what?”  I’m so completely used to life with a chimney sweep that I was confused and actually looked at my other(clean as a whistle) child first, thinking he probably did have a bruise or two from falling down.  Then finally I explain, “Oh, he is dressed up like a chimney sweep.  That is soot.”  The woman laughs with relief.

The best part of living with a chimney sweep though is…

That sometimes just looking at him makes me laugh so hard that I can’t even take proper photos and half of my photos wind up like this one below:


But that is okay because he is too busy laughing too.


And laughing…

And laughing…


He makes a mean batch of molasses cookies, which we now have dubbed “Soot Cookies” forever.


We’re going on day SIX today and we are even going on a vacation soon.  Will the chimney sweep be joining us?  I wonder how long this will last.  It sure has been fun.


Do you let your kids dress up and go places?  What was the wildest outfit that was paraded in public?

German Chimney Sweeps Face Loss of Monopoly

April 6th, 2012

For 70 years, German chimney sweeps have held monopolies in assigned districts, with customers required by law to pay for their services. The sweeps are about to learn if the German government will challenge an EU ruling that the arrangement blocks free trade.


To Germany now, where one of the most secured jobs in the country is about to become a little less so. The German government requires that all households use the services of a chimneysweep. And that’s given the sweeps a monopoly on much more than shoveling ashes.

But that’s now about to change as NPR’s Emily Harris reports from Berlin.

Tom Drust is a third generation chimneysweep, and he’s a traditionalist. He really does wear a black top hat to work. Today, he’s dropping a metal brush on a rope weighted with a heavy ball down a 200-year-old chimney. And hand over hand, hauling it back up again.

Mr. TOM DRUST (Chimneysweeper, Germany): (Speaking foreign language)

HARRIS: Once is enough for this chimney he says.

Mr. DRUTH: (Through translator) It’s not that cold. The woodstoves haven’t been burning for very long, and we come regularly.

HARRIS: Regularity is what chimney sweeping is all about in Germany. The government mandates how often chimneys must be cleaned and how often modern heating and ventilating systems must be checked, those jobs are also assigned by law to chimneysweeps. A master sweep is in charge of a district of some 2,000 or more households. Customers may not shop around. This makes safety regulations a lot easier to enforce, says the head of Germany’s sweep association, Frank Saber(ph).

Mr. FRANK SABER: In this case, the government has to control about 8,000 companies in Germany. And otherwise, you have to control 80 million people and the heater.

HARRIS: But European Union competition officials call the set-up illegal. Under threat of a lawsuit from Brussels, Berlin is proposing a compromise; keep the districts’ monopoly for jobs involving public safety and environmental protection. For other services, homeowners would be allowed to hire any qualified sweeper. That’s not enough for homeowner Paul Abahart(ph).

Mr. PAUL ABAHART: (Through translator) Every two years my heating technician checks the system, so all the checking and cleaning that he does has already been done. It’s a double service that makes no sense at all.

HARRIS: Chimneysweeps are traditionally seen as bringers of good luck. But a minority of Germans really hates the sweep system. And often hate their assigned chimneysweep.

At a small demonstration on the outskirts of Berlin, they play a song that essentially accuses chimneysweeps of being spies. They say that was the point of Hitler era laws that required sweeps be German and lead an exemplary life.

Those rules were chucked in a 1969 revision, and now sweeps are generally forbidden from sharing personal information about customers. But the obligation to let sweeps in and pay for them riles some people to the extreme. Manfred Rickmirer(ph) has been fighting chimneysweeps for five years.

Mr. MANFRED RICKMIRER: (Through translator) They can check whether people who have a TV actually pay the fees for that, whether people with a dog pay the tax for the dogs, or if a person has an expensive lifestyle that the tax authorities might like to know about. Of course, we can’t prove these, but it’s possible. It happened in the Third Reich, and the DDR, so why not now?

Mr. DRUST: (Speaking foreign language)

HARRIS: We have nothing to do with spying says sweep Tom Drust. He laughs, ask the elderly owner of a 19th century restaurant, whose chimney Drust has just cleaned, how he feels about sweeps. And he pauses then tells how the original 15th century building here burned down because of a chimney fire.

Vented vs. Vent-Free Gas Logs

March 24th, 2012

When shopping for gas logs,  you’ll be asked to choose whether you want vented or vent-free logs. This decision comes down to several factors including looks vs. efficiency, local building codes and placement of the fireplace.

With vented logs, you’ll enjoy a large, realistic-looking flame that operates with an open chimney flue, or damper. These logs, which simulate a wood-burning fire, are more decorative than they are efficient as a heat source because much of the generated heat goes up the chimney.

Vent-free logs, which operate with the chimney flue closed, will not give you that roaring fire effect—the flame is not as realistic or as high as you’ll find with vented logs. But, vent-free logs are an efficient heat source because 100% of the heat generated stays in your home. You’ll often see vent-free logs referred to as “vent-free heaters” because that is essentially what they are. They consist of U-shaped burners with cement logs stacked on top of the heating element. Most sets have a thermostatic control that helps maintain a consistent room temperature. Vent-free heaters add moisture to the air, so it’s important to install them in a room with proper ventilation to avoid formation of mildew.

The convince of a remote control.

Before installing any gas log system, visit Hearth and Patio on Monroe Rd in Matthews NC.  In some localities, vent-free heaters are not permitted. Vent-free heaters are not permitted in bedrooms, bathrooms or recreational vehicles, and must be installed in an area where curtains, furniture, clothing or other flammable objects are at least 36 inches away from the perimeter of the heater. Vent-free heater installation also is not recommended in high traffic, windy or drafty areas.

Woman Chimney Sweepers

March 23rd, 2012

Growing up, Gina Somerton, 42, of Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk, had dreamed of becoming a hairdresser and went on to work as a shop assistant and in restaurants.

But a conversation about possible alternative careers with her partner’s mother got the mum-of-three thinking that chimneys might be an ideal source of income; six years on, her business, Lady Sweep, is thriving.

“I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted to be able to spend time with my children during the summer,” she says. “It might sound strange to some people, but to me it’s perfect.

“It’s true that I get dirty. But I can come home and have a shower afterwards, can’t I?”

Photograph by Horace Nicholls of a woman chimney sweep in wartime Kent, undated.

Horace Nicholls was one of two professional photographers who were commissioned in 1917 by the Women’s Work Committee of the newly founded Imperial War Museum to take photographs of women at work during the First World War. This photograph shows a woman chimney sweep in Kent, ‘carrying on the business of her husband who was a sweep before the war’ – one of the many examples of women stepping into previously male-dominated professions during the period between 1914 and 1918.

FORMER call center worker Dawn Peters gave her old job the brush off — to become one of only three women chimney sweeps in Britain.

She started last October and now cleans up to four chimneys a day.

The ex-BT worker said: “I had to change careers because I can’t use a computer after I developed medical problems.

“My partner said I could do a better job than our sweep so I gave it a go. It’s a fantastic business if you don’t mind getting a bit dirty.”

Dawn, 36, of Exeter, Devon, added: “There are only three women registered with the Institute of Chimney Sweeps.

“You have to be fit — but there’s no reason why a woman can’t do it.”

Chimney Sweep History

March 23rd, 2012

Chimney Sweep History
By Theresa Leschmann, eHow Contributor

Chimney Sweep History
Chimney sweeps are often associated with England, particularly the Victorian period. Our popular collective perception of chimney sweeps compares favorably with Dick Van Dyke’s portrayal of Burt the chimney sweep in the classic Disney film “Mary Poppins.” Chimney sweeps have been around much longer than that and are still with us today. Most of the work was done by children, until child labor laws came into being.
Other People Ar

Read more: Chimney Sweep History |

Why Should I Care About Chimney Liners

March 22nd, 2012

Why Should I Care About Chimney Liners

What you Need to Know About Liners

It may seem like just a part of the chimney that you don’t really need to understand, but a liner is actually a very critical part of every chimney. In fireplaces that burn gas, oil, or solid fuels, a liner helps guide the combustion by-products out and away from the chimney. Every chimney needs a working liner and during your annual chimney cleaning, your chimney professional may tell you that you need a new one or that you need to repair the existing one.

There are a few reasons why you may need a new liner; if your chimney currently has no liner, if it was installed improperly or if it is deteriorating or defective in some way. Before the 1940s, homes were typically built without a chimney liner and as a result, before this time, chimney and house fires were much more commonplace. A liner provides extra protection to the interior of the chimney and helps guide the gases and particles up and out of the structure.

There are three main types of chimney liners. These include clay tile liners, cast-in-place liners, and metal liners. While all 3 options provide adequate protection for your chimney flue, there are different circumstances when each variety may be the best option for you.

Clay Tile Liners – Usually Built During Home Construction

In many older homes you will find clay tile liners in the chimney. This method has been around since the 1900s and there is good reason why it is still used today. Clay tiles can withstand extremely high temperatures without damaging or hindering the performance of the liner. Clay tiles also hold up against the corrosive materials that are burned in and pass through the flue to leave the chimney. In addition, the clay tile material itself is relatively inexpensive to purchase and once installed, these tile liners last for about 50 years.

While there are many benefits to using clay tiles, it also has some drawbacks. The materials to create the clay tile liner are inexpensive, but the work that must go along with the installation can be rather costly if it is not built along with the home. Today, for the most part tile liners are installed during the home building process. To replace a tile liner that is falling apart is a more difficult task. Even with the simplest straight chimney, the old tiles must be chipped and broken out from the top of the chimney using special tools your chimney professional will have. Sometimes the chimney walls must be broken through every few feet to take out the old flue and install the new one. And when the chimney is crooked or contains “offsets”, it makes the process much more difficult. To reline the chimney effectively, the tiles need to be cut precisely to fit together within the flue. The installation process is tedious, especially for flues that are not simply perfectly straight. The tile shape is also not really the best shape to line a chimney. The tiles don’t create a smooth interior as each tile is in a square or rectangular shape. For this reason, air gets caught in the spaces between tiles and it may also affect the draft in your chimney. And the tiles can crack with age or if they are damaged. A round liner can eliminate these problems. Due to the difficulty of this job, it is recommended not to take this on as a home repair job. It definitely requires the skills of a chimney sweep professional.

Cast-in-Place Liner – To Reinforce an Existing Chimney

This option is perfect for creating a new flue inside of a chimney that is in poor shape. It works to reinforce the existing chimney and provides a sturdy and effective liner. Similar to the clay flues, cast-in-place liners are not affected by the heat or harmful gases put off from the fire below. For this reason, they are very durable. Cast-in-place liners provide good insulation value and higher temperatures within the chimney. This makes the fires burn cleaner and acquire less creosote buildup as a result. These liners also last a long time (up to 50 years in some cases), just like the clay liners.

The process for installing a cast in place liner, while less invasive than the clay liner, is still a difficult task to take on. One way this liner is created is by a certain mortar mix being pumped into the chimney around an inflated rubber bladder to create a smooth rounded surface within the chimney. Once the mortar has set, the bladder is then removed with the liner still intact. There are other proprietary methods used by chimney professionals to create this type of liner as well. One uses a bell shaped form that vibrates as it is pulled up through the chimney at the same time mortar is poured into the chimney. The mortar forms around the bell as it is raised the distance of the chimney forming a round flue opening in the mortar.

Metal Flue Liner – Liners that Works in Most Every Chimney

There are many different shapes and varieties of metal flue liners. Typically a stainless steel alloy is used. The metal flue liners come in two different forms; rigid and flexible. The type your chimney professional will choose to use depends on the shape of your chimney. Rigid liners are used in chimneys that are completely straight with no off-sets or bends. While both liners provide proper protection, one advantage of the flexible liner is that it may hold less buildup because it expands and contracts with the temperatures of the chimney which then knocks off any creosote or other buildup when it moves. Corrosion is the most common problem that occurs with metal flue liners. But by using the correct alloy to go with the type of fuel burned the corrosion problem can be addressed. Insulation can also be used with metal liners. Insulation material around the metal liner helps to keep higher heat in the chimney and also helps to get rid of condensation that may cause corrosion over time in the chimney. It also prevents heat from moving into the pipes within the home structure. Metal liners are the perfect option for already existing chimneys that do not have a liner or need a liner replacement. They are a relatively simple installation with almost all of the benefits of the other types of liners. Chimneys without bends and twists are the simplest to install a metal liner into but it can work in all chimneys with the flexible metal liner.

There are a few different types of chimney liners and they all have their benefits, the important thing is to have a chimney liner in the first place. Hire a chimney professional to take a look to make sure your chimney lining is doing it’s job – and if there are deficiencies, to determine the best option for you!

Wood Burning and the Carbon Footprint

March 20th, 2012

Wood Burning and the Carbon Footprint

How can you help save the environment, save money and still heat your home completely all winter long? Wood burning stoves use a replenishable and inexpensive fuel that is extremely efficient especially when modern appliances are used. Wood burning stoves may seem old fashioned, but the rustic, old fashioned look and feel comes with modern efficiency and capabilities these days. You don’t have to choose one or the other, the romantic blaze from a woodburnig stove or fireplace insert can also heat your home and save you money.

Is burning wood really a “greener” way to heat or supplement the heating of your home? Well, to begin with burning wood for heat does not add to your individual carbon footprint. Wood gives off the same amount of carbon whether it is burned up or decays naturally and is considered Carbon Neutral. Next point to consider is that wood is a “renewable” resource. Unlike oil, coal, or gas – when we run out of those fuel sources, they’ll be gone for good. Wood harvesting techniques are based on a sustainable model, so wood will be there for us in the future. We can’t grow oil, but we can (and do) grow more trees. Another point to consider is the cost of production and transportation associated with the non-renewables. Over all, wood comes out looking good from a “green” perspective.

As compared with fossil fuels and other energy sources, the benefits of wood far surpass its competition. New wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts are engineered with fuel economy in mind and health and environmental concerns kept as the highest priority. While fossil fuels contaminate the environment and then are used up and cannot be replaced, wood burning has made drastic improvements in burning efficiency and without emissions and can be easily used sustainably.

Still need more convincing?

Low Cost – Wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts are the most cost effective source of energy. Wood is abundantly available and homeowners can often find a source of wood to burn for free! Even without the extra effort of finding wood for free, wood is still a relatively inexpensive option. Wood costs roughly a third the cost of natural gas, electricity or oil. Coal, gas and oil are fossil-based, non-renewable resources. And in the last year, costs for these commodities have soared along with the electricity prices. Don’t get caught in these traps. A wood burning stove is your way out.

Low Emissions – Today, high efficiency wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts can maximize the heat dispersed from a burning log and these stoves leave behind little evidence of the wood burning as it is almost completely burned besides minor amounts of ash. The new stoves produce only about 2-5 grams of smoke per hour of burning. And even less ash. For this reason, some modern stoves are so completely clean burning that they are approved for use in smokeless areas indoors. A wood burning stove is designed to burn at much higher temperatures. This means gases present in the smoke are fully burned and not released back into the atmosphere. This results in a thermal efficiency of around 80%. Which means that a log burnt in a modern wood stove can get around 4 times more heat than one log in an open fire.

Carbon Neutral - The process of burning wood also does not emit any additional carbon dioxide than the natural biodegradation of the wood if it were left to rot on the forest floor. Over the course of a tree’s life it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then releases this carbon dioxide when it either decomposes naturally or is burned. For this reason, no CO2 is added to the atmosphere, it simply releases the carbon dioxide that was previously accumulated back into the environment. Wood is a very environmentally friendly source of fuel because it is carbon neutral. Fossil fuels on the other hand, are not carbon neutral. Fossil fuels have stored and accumulated carbon over hundreds of years and then, all at once, this carbon is released in its entirety when the fossil fuels are burned. This process adds substantial amounts of carbon dioxide to the environment.

Sustainable – Wood is an abundant resource in North America and unlike many of the alternatives, a renewable one too. Today we have more wooded acres than we did 100 years ago and the balance is carefully managed to preserve our wooded lands. To keep the wood supply at a sustainable state, there needs to be some maintenance that goes along with the wood harvesting.

Sustainable forests are the key to wood as a heat resource. The days where clear cutting was acceptable are over and the concept of planting more than you harvest is alive and well. Wood is an entirely renewable source of energy only when handled correctly, but the great news is that it is very simple to maintain a sustainable forest! The US Forest Service helps control the excess timber that is harvested and they work to ensure the companies are utilizing sustainable cutting practices. Another important factor in eco-friendly wood burning is using local wood. The costs associated with preparing wood to burn goes up when transportation is involved, so the best way to receive wood is from a local forest or producer. This local purchasing reduces the pollution emitted during the transportation process and ensures the entire process is sustainable.

With the energy crisis always on the upswing, any and every use of fuel is under high scrutiny. Overall, a timber-fueled system provides a great all around solution to a home heating fuel source. Avoid the stress. Go green and reduce energy costs at the same time!

Give me a call if you have any questions at Affordable Chimney Service / 704.526.6348.

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