Staying safe during isolation

Fireplaces have many functions, but they were and still may also prove to be a lifeline, e.g. during a power cut, they can provide the main source of heating and cooking. Having a traditional fire in adverse situations gives a sense of security as an independent heat source and for some people who are on their own for long periods of time, it can be almost like a companion.

Over the next few months, given world events, stove and fireplace usage could rise above normal levels and full lock down could mean no sweep visits are possible.
So are you and your appliance ready to rise to the challenge?

The key to having a consistent and effective supply of heat from your fireplace depends on YOU.

Here’s 5 ways YOU can ensure your appliance is in the best shape possible.

  1. Book A Chimney Sweep NOW

At this point in time sweeps can’t stress enough the importance of getting your appliance swept now. Even if it was done a few months ago, a chimney can still get blocked or become faulty quite quickly, they all have their own stories but over 12 months and it definitely needs a sweep.

Even having the best appliance, the best fuels and the best burning practices, they are all pointless unless the chimney is working. Make that appointment today!

2. Make Sure Your Stove/Fireplace has been Serviced

Basic maintenance of any appliance that is or has been in use, means it simply won’t work properly unless it has been serviced. Air channels get blocked, efficiency can decrease, performance can be hampered and dangerous situations involving carbon monoxide can arise.

All bricks, rope seals, vents etc should be in good order, as these all help make for a well-functioning appliance. It is better to get a professional to look at these and many sweeps do this as part of their checks anyway.

3. Always Use Appropriate, Quality Fuels

Good fireplaces and chimneys need good fuels – plain and simple.
Do NOT burn anything like household rubbish, treated wood, plastics etc. These will not only cause pollution, damage your appliance, potentially cause a chimney fire but are most probably exposing you to noxious fumes.

If you are using coals, it is always better to choose Approved Smokeless Fuel which is dry. If the coals come out of the bag wet, put them in a box to dry out before putting on the fire. You should only use dry wood with a moisture content below 20% – double check with a moisture meter.

4. Don’t Slumber/Burn Overnight

It can be very tempting to try to ‘keep the fire on’ if you’re using it over a prolonged period of time but this is a very bad idea. Firstly, as a consumer it is actually a waste of money. You get next to no heat, yet you will still use fuel.

It also causes a massive amount of pollution – increasing the risk of aggravating respiratory illnesses and potentially cause a chimney fire. The best way is to simply light a new fire each time you want to use it. Burn your fuels hot (a stove pipe thermometer will help getting the correct temperature) so you will get the best from your fireplace.

5. Check Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm

It’s not just really important that you have a Carbon Monoxide alarm but that it also works and is positioned in the correct place.

Generally speaking, alarms should be in a fixed position on a wall or ceiling but you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on this because they may vary slightly from one brand to another.

Please Remember…

This is only a brief guide and there are many more things which may be relevant to you and your unique situation but that advice can only be given by a professional sweep when they are in your property, doing their checks.

Real fires can be a lifeline in certain situations, but they can also be deadly if you neglect to have them swept and serviced, .

Stay safe, stay warm – get it swept!

What is a CCTV Chimney Survey?

A  CCTV Chimney Survey comprises of a professional sweep using a flexible camera system to look up inside your existing flue system. This allows a close-up view of the system, meaning that any damages or blockages can be identified. A CCTV Chimney Survey also allows the sweep to note the measurements of the flue system interior. These are necessary to ensure the correct size of flue liner can be used for your project. The correct size of flue lining is key to preventing any harmful gasses from escaping into the property and other issues such as water and/or liquid emission flows. 

The CCTV Chimney Surveys Allow Us To:

  • Identify the flue system dimensions.
  • Establish the best lining system for your flue, if needed?
  • Check for damages such as past chimney fire damage, extreme weather, or just general wear and tear.
  • Establish the presence of and view blockages which could arise from fallen debris, animal mess, birds nests or damages by foreign objects/obstructions, bad bends and all other considerations.
  • Check the quality of installation and condition of existing flue liners.

CCTV Inspections are a new service (as of 2018) from TRCS and we mainly use them in birds nest removals (free of charge) as part of every bird’s nest removal we do. Our camera is infra-red and has a video viewing screen on the container box so we and you can see what is going on in real time. Our inspections are a look-see only level , for full level report capabilities and full pan and tilt camera would be required.

How to light my Fire

How to light a Fire

Oh umm i meant a fire , was just my daft attempt an attention grabber, lol.  Not that anyone probably needs this article BUT you never know right , there’s always somebody somewhere starting out at something so, on with the article.

Make sure the damper, throat, whatever ventilation system or plate is open

  • Empty the ash tray. This aids ventilation and draw.
  • You will need either firelighters (expensive) or paper and dry sticks (kindling) if you prefer.
  • Coal or dry logs.
  • If using firelighters then follow the instructions on the packet or…

Step One

Take a sheet of newspaper in both hands and crumple it into a long stick.

Fold it…

…and tuck it into a firm ball.

Place it in the grate and continue until there is a layer across the base of the grate.

If you just crumple the sheets and place them in the grate there is a greater amount of air within it which will result in a quicker burn and the likelihood that the wood may not catch fire. Tighter paper has a slower burn and allows the wood to catch fire.

Step Two

Lay your kindling sticks on top of the paper in a criss-cross fashion allowing the flames from below to get amongst them. Don’t skimp on the wood. More fires fail because of a lack of kindling than any other problem.

Your kindling should be dry and not too thick. The idea is for the paper to light the wood and when the wood has caught to light the coal or the logs.

Step Three

On top of the wood place a loose layer of coal using tongs if required to place them.

Step Four

Make sure the fire guard is to hand and put a light to the paper at two or three points along the front. Long stemmed matched are preferred to prevent burning of fingers. Once you are sure it has taken, place the fire guard in front and watch. As the paper burns the fire will drop slightly but by then the wood should be on fire and starting to heat the coal.

Once the coal has caught fire you may add a little more but don’t kill it under a mountain of the stuff. A little, often, is the way to succeed.  If you are burning logs then the same principle applies. Small sticks, bigger sticks, small logs, bigger logs, simple! BE PATIENT.

If it does start to struggle try adding some more kindling rather than coal or logs.


The importance of decent ladders

The importance of decent ladders


So it had been in the back of my mind for a while now to invest in some decent ladders as the ones left to me by my father were getting on a bit. As with a lot of things these days, it didn’t take me long to find out the price of a decent set of ladders with free delivery wasn’t particularly expensive; after that i couldn’t fail to abide by the logic of getting a new set.

There i sat patiently waiting until finally after 2 days and lots of excuses later, the new shiny ladders finally arrived. Out i went to inspect them and lo and behold , i stopped counting at 6 rungs damaged by significant dents. I know its an out sized item mate but bloody ell you fair been flinging it around in anger ?

I had to laugh at this guy ,  i really did, he who still had the sheer audacity to suggest,” it’s OK mate you can accept them and get your money back so it says so here on my delivery note thingy”.  So i enlighten him that for me to return them to get my money back would cost almost as much as the set of ladders. Moral of the story is always check your deliveries from couriers these days , there’s always lots of stories about them doing this kind of thing these days.

Needless to say after adjusting to ladders that i don’t need to body-pop just to stay upright on was a bit weird to begin with, lol i kept shoogling and …of course it stayed dead still. Ahh i’m so happy with my new ladders , the new stability in my life ..hah, should have gotten some ages back but hey got em now, joy 🙂

Figure 1: LYTE Ladders