Yesterday, I had a chimney sweep calling, to clean the wood burning stove and its large chimney that goes through the ceiling and out onto the roof. We don’t use the wood-burner that much, and mainly keep if for emergencies like power cuts. But then we discovered that it has to have an annual safety certificate, whether we have actually lit it, or not.
This is because of house insurance of course; yet more income-generation for tradesmen, and potential avoidance of any claims by the insurance company.
So I found a local chimney sweep who is a member of The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps (yes, there is such a guild) and arranged for him to come yesterday morning at nine. The name of his one-man company is ‘Norfolk Sooty’, quite a good name, I thought.
Things have changed a lot since Dick Van Dyke was dancing on rooftops twirling his brush, his face smeared with soot in the film ‘Mary Poppins’.
My sweep arrived on time, and proceeded to cover the hallway carpets with clean plastic sheets before he even attempted to come in. Then he brought more covers to spread around the floor at the base of the wood-burner, and began to use his industrial strength vacuum cleaner to remove anything from inside the chamber. Once he was happy with that, he put a small brush inside, then removed the grate and top plate, before securing a clear plastic hood around the stove with magnetic bars that held it in place.
The hood had two openings. One was for the tube of the vacuum cleaner to be inserted into, the second smaller one was for the lengths of tubing that attached to the brush. The brush was moved up and down inside the chimney many times, then attached to a power drill that spun the brush inside, for a thorough clean.
I watched from across the room, very impressed with his thoroughness, as well as his cleanliness. Not only did he vacuum all the floor covering he had put down, he also vacuumed his own clothing as he worked, to make sure no dirt fell onto the surrounding carpets when he stood up.
When the hood was removed from the stove, he had to admit it was one of the cleanest chimneys he had ever swept, a result of us hardly using it over the years. I asked if he had found much inside, and he shook his head. Opening his hand, he smiled.
“One dead bat”.
In his hand was a tiny mummified bat. As it was not charred or burned, we concluded that it must have died of starvation, after being trapped somewhere in the chimney.
I wrapped it in some soft tissue, and gently placed it into the rubbish bin.