Just recently, we had a few new customers within a short period of time who had all recently bought a new property and wanted to start as they mean to go on by getting their chimneys swept and checked out. So far so good, it is a wise decision to get us in sooner rather than later when you are about to start decorating.
Often times when we get a call from a new owner like this, there may be a surprise or two waiting for us in the flue. When on initial inspection i find a bag, a bunch of newspapers or something else stuffed up inside the flue, it often turns out to be a sign i may be about to find something worse too. This could be anything from just an old dusty/really dirty lum to something like a collapse full of rubble, bad birds nest or even worse problems. It seems almost nobody thinks to take a torch to look up inside the flue and unfortunately this seems to include most of the surveyors that you pay so much money to for advice.
One of these new owners got a nasty, “surprise moving in present” which presented itself to me in the form of massive stalactites of burnt soot when i shone my torch up the flue. This immediately told me a few things about the previous owner. He had burnt his fire relentlessly over the years without getting it swept, to the point it had been badly on fire numerous times. He very obviously didn’t care about what he burned, maintenance, nor his or the new owners safety, .. or for that matter even a sense of fair play.
For us the job easily entailed something like the effort of ten normal sweeps and also took about 6 or 7 times the length of time to do a normal sweep. A few hours later we were satisfied the chimney was swept to standard and after cleaning up, we were left with 4 full bin bags of burnt crispy soot (if this had been normal soot it would have been another 2 bags at least) on the hearth.
This job for me, easily won the ‘worst lum of Scotland’ award. It was without doubt the single worst job in my entire career since i took over from my father in 2012. There have been a few contenders from time to time but this won hands down, it was something else indeed.
Unfortunately, for the new owners this was only a sample of the previous owners exceptionally nasty & careless character. They went on to tell us about numerous other nightmares plaguing the house that they had inherited after buying it. This old so and so had actually stolen all the electrical fixtures & fittings leaving sparking wires where the original light switches & sockets had been too, wow.
So, the moral of this story is be careful when you are buying a property folks. It is wise to get the sweep in to do his thing before thinking about decorating just in case there are problems in your flue too.