Read the latest news from Ablewight founder, Bil Wight

Creosote and tar build up

Are you at risk of a chimney fire? Is your chimney safe? Chimney fires occur when there is fuel in your chimney to feed it.  By fuel, we mean creosote and tar which can accumulate in all types of chimneys – masonry, or metal, where wood burning appliances are vented. Creosote and tar are combustible and if it is set afire the resulting chimney fire is extremely hot, in some cases reaching over 1,000 degrees Celsius.  A chimney fire can melt through even a well-built safe chimney, setting the building on fire. What causes creosote and tar build up? -The temperatures in the chimney or flue -Level of usage -The wood-sap content of the wood being burned. -Moisture content of the wood being burned. -The wood species (or to a smaller degree the type of coal or peat) being burned. -The chimney size, height, location, and construction materials serving the heating appliance. -Adequacy of combustion air supply -Anything else that affects chimney draft. -The frequency of chimney cleaning and the thickness of existing creosote and tar deposits.   What are the dangers of a chimney fire? A chimney fire could quickly spread and destroy your home. The temperature of a chimney fire can exceed 1,000 degrees Celsius – this will damage any liner you may have and almost certainly require relining. The high temperature of the chimney fire can even damage the bricks of your chimney stack and in some cases requiring your chimney stack to be rebuilt. How to tell if you have tar or creosote? Your chimney sweep, when cleaning your chimney, will be able to identify whether or not tar and creosote is present from what comes down the chimney. What if you’ve already got tar or creosote in your chimney? In the vast majority of cases, we can easily remove it for you.  It requires a chemical powder treatment which is non-intrusive and typically completed within 1 week.  Go from a chimney fire risk to a safe chimney within just 7 days! How it works: We would clean your flue and then spray the chemical, which is a powder, up your chimney.  The powder sticks to the creosote and tar and lines the entirety of the flue.  Then, each night for 4 nights, you would light a fire, the heat from the fire makes the chemical react with the tar and creosote which breaks it down.  After a week we clean the chimney again and the creosote and tar easily comes off.  In extreme cases an additional application of the chemical could be needed but the majority of flues only require one treatment. If you’re worried about the build-up of creosote and tar in your chimney, we’d like to help and resolve any concerns you may have. Just call us on 01223 964305 or email bookings@ablewightchimneyservices.co.uk to book your Cre-Away treatment.  

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Do I Need a New Chimney Liner?

You may already have a chimney liner but how can you tell if you need a new chimney liner? Pre or Post 1965 Property? [caption id="attachment_225" align="alignright" width="300"] The cement holding the bricks together has disintegrated over time resulting in a leaky chimney that requires lining.[/caption] The most simplistic answer is that if your house was built before 1965, and you wish to use it for anything more than an open fire, then the odds are very good that you do in fact need a chimney liner. Older chimneys do degrade with time, with some degradation resulting in blocked chimneys. Smelling Smoke Upstairs When your fire is lit, if you can smell smoke in upstairs bedrooms that the chimney stack runs through, that is a fairly good indicator that your flue is leaking and in fact needs lining.  It's not always certain though as downdraught can have an impact, so be sure to ask us for a definitive answer. What Comes Down When Your Chimney Liner is Swept? As daft as it sounds, we can tell a lot by what comes down the chimney when it's swept.  If you have a stainless steel liner and there are flecks of rust in the soot, this indicates there is an issue and we would advise having a CCTV survey to find out the extent of it.  It's worth having a survey as the disintegration could be fairly mild meaning you can still use the liner for a few years. Dirt Falling Down Your Chimney Liner If your chimney is unlined, it may be suffering with degradation.  This occurs where the acid in the soot erodes away the cement holding the bricks together.  The result of this is that every now and then you may get a 'dirt fall' down your chimney.  It tends to be a small amount of dust that happens every now and then.  To reduce the impact of the acid erosion, have your chimney swept every year at the END of the burning season so that the soot isn't able to erode the cement over the summer months. Ask The Experts The simplest way of dealing with your concerns is to call out a certified chimney sweep to clean the chimney and advise you.  A competent chimney sweep, who is HETAS registered will have the knowledge base needed to advise you properly, and sweeping the chimney will enable him to tell you what state it is in as well as the chimney liner.  He will be able to tell you if you need a new chimney liner and advise on the most suitable liner.. There are a number of different types of relining systems on the market. All are different, and not all will suit your chimney. Sectional Liners The sectional chimney liner is made from terracotta, ceramics or pumice (the best) however, these require a lot of space within the flue to fit them, and a thorough installation may require that the installer break into the flue in several places to ensure that a proper job is done. Pumped Chimney Liners Next come pumped chimney liner.  This is in effect a long rubber tube that is threaded down the flue, and cement is pumped around it to form a coherent liner.  Once the cement has set, the tube is deflated and removed.  In some cases, where the tube has not been supported properly, or the mix was not 100% properly mixed, this can leave bald patches and or cracks, thus making it a pointless exercise.  You MUST always check these with a CCTV survey after the flue has dried for a couple of days before parting with your money. Stainless Steel Flexible Liners Stainless steel flexible liners are excellent methods of lining a chimney, especially for stoves, as they are small and can fit down the flues very easily.  Stoves usually require no more than a 6 inch diameter flue, and you can see that this will pass down a 9 inch by nine inch flue with comparative ease. Eldfast Ceramic Paste Liners Eldfast lining system.  Open fires though do present a particular problem.  When you reline their flues with a sectional chimney liner, the internal bore can easily drop below 8 inches, which can make all but the smallest open fires smoke.  If you use the twinwall stainless liner, then the price increases RADICALLY with every inch increase in diameter.  The Eldfast lining system merely coates the inside of the chimney with a ceramic paste, filling cracks and holes with ease to give an excellent finish.  Best of all, it barely decreases the internal diameter of the flue, so if the flue pulled well with no smoking back before, it should function even better after the Eldfast chimney liner has been installed. If you're not sure whether or not you need a chimney liner, give us a call on 01223 835886 and we'll book an appointment for your chimney to be swept and give you some advice.

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Let’s Talk Stove Installation

So, let's talk stove installation! [caption id="attachment_23" align="alignright" width="291"] A modern inset stove with a metal surround[/caption] This may seem like a strange thing to say and do in summer time, however, this is the ideal time of year to think about having a stove installation, so that if you decide you would like a stove as part of your home improvements, it is possible to have the stove installation carried out before burning season starts again and start reaping the rewards on fuel savings and heating your home efficiently when you need it most. Time to shop Accounting for the time it takes to shop around for a stove, obtain estimates, establish your budget, decide on the make and model that's best suitable for your home, preferred fuel type and what you're looking to achieve with a stove installation along with then booking and confirming your stove installation and requirements, can take some time. Here we are aiming to give you a quick summary about stoves and a stove installation to help you if you are thinking about it or undecided. Cost Savings Well, to have a wood-burning stove installation in your house is the new 'must have', and not just from chasing after style. A stove installation brings something special to your house. First off, they turn the uncontrollable open fire into a tame, controllable animal that does what it is told. At the turn of a lever, the stove can be made to roar like a lion, or purr like a cat. This has enormous significance. When we switched to a stove installation, the first thing I noticed was that the wood pile didn’t shrink NEARLY as fast as it had done with an open fire. That was the first saving. Then of course, because the stove installation closed off the chimney and regulated absolutely how much air was going up the flue, I no longer needed as much heat to heat the house. Energy Savings With an open fire, the chimney sprays warm air into the sky 24/7, which is an enormous waste of energy. Wait ‘till you light that open fire, and a torrent of hot air simply roars up the chimney in a desperate attempt to heat the Great Outdoors. Safety Closing off that flue with a stove turns the unmanageable monster into a controllable kitten. In addition, there is the safety factor. Open fires are something that you have to be well aware of at all times. There is the constant fear that at any minute a log may decide to spit out a spark to burn holes in your carpet, your sofa… but a stove installation kills that dead. The fire burns behind a glass screen and any sparks just bounce futilely around inside the stove. Style When it comes to the style element, the world is your oyster. Whether your taste is for the high tech German Wunder stove, or the cottage cosy-style that mirrors rural joys, there is a stove for you, and as long as you have good advice and choose carefully, you too can be blessing the day that you chose to enter the stove set. Preparation Before you get your stove installed you will need to have your chimney swept, so give us a call and we'll happily make sure your chimney is ready for your new install.  Just call us on 01223 835886.

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© Wight Initiatives
VAT # 218 3459 04
Registered in the UK # 7725 203
Wight Initiatives Ltd,
23 King Street,
Cambridge, CB1 1AH
The Officers’ Mess Business Centre, Royston Road, Duxford, CB22 4QH
Registered in the UK # 7725 203
VAT # 218 3459 04