Thursday, 23 August 2007

Chimney pots and chimney fires

In February we had a chimney fire, which was pretty exciting, but fortunately did more or less no damage, though it did crack the chimney pot. I've been meaning to get it seen to, but kept forgetting. Anyhow, after the sweep had, for the second time, refused to poke his brush all the way up the chimney in case he broke it, I finally contacted a builder I know.

Bill Balsom is father to the gorgeous <name drop>Alison Balsom</name drop>, trumpet player extraordinaire and winner of the Brass Section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year a few years ago. His son Richard, plays euphonium to a high standard too, but instead of going into music as a professional, is one of our local firemen.

So Bill and Richard came around to check out the chimney and give me a quote. To my surprise, they lifted one of the loft velux windows out of its frame and Richard climbed up onto the roof from there! It would never have occurred to me to do that!

Despite the slippery, wet slates, he didn't fall off, but noted that although cracked for its full length, the pot is still sound and solidly fixed in the cement flaunching, so didn't need to be replaced. He took a photo on our camera so we could see it and I'm currently trying to speak to a chimney sweep about it, just to make sure. At any rate, by the sound of it, it will be so cheap to repair that it won't be worth claiming on the house insurance.

I might add the photo to this post when I get home this evening.


ArcticFox said...

Do you know, I was just about to perversely ask for the photographic evidence of said chimney pot.

I had a chimney fire once.... was a lot of smoke without much fire to be fair!!

Thanks for the support over the use of the mouse traps!!


Exmoorjane said...

Bill Balsom...great name....sounds a bit like Balser (as in Balser wood, or am I misspelling that?)..
yes, indeed to things found in roofs, and so on. When we lived in London, aeons ago, found all kind of odd things -Victorian bottles, an old glass gaslamp cover, coins etc. We'll go carefully...promise.

Rob Clack said...

I'll do it tonight, Fox.

Our chimney fire was good fun, if scary. My wife was out for the evening, Feb 14th. (work, honest!) I had fed myself and settled down with a bottle in front of a roaring log file.

Suddenly there was a loud WHOOSH! followed by a roaring sound much like a jet engine. I knew immediately what had happened and rushed outside to see flames and dense smoke shooting out of the chimney.

First called the fire brigade, then poured a watering can of water on the fire in the grate. By the time the flashing blue lights arrive it was actually out.

Jenny arrived home around 11:15 to find the house crawling with hunks I mean firemen!

Pretty sure it's balsa wood, EMJ. I tend to associate it more with Friar's balsam (symptomatic cold relief) which smelled lovely. Sadly no longer available, I think.

Regarding the roof, I should have known....grandmothers..eggs, etc. Sigh.

Rob Clack said...

...roaring log FIRE, not file godammit! Who proofread this stuff?

DJ Kirkby said...

How interesting. That pic made my tummy drop, such a great height! You said you'd post the pic when you got home..okay so where were you blogging from?

Rob Clack said...

shhh! (don't tell) I was at work!

Actually, it's not all skyving. Some of the tests I do (I test internet-aware audio equipment) involve kicking off a process which might take quite a while to finish, and just waiting. In that time, I need to monitor what's going on, but not always continuously, so some of the time I can blog without actually impacting my work. Neat, huh?

DJ Kirkby said...

Don't worry I am just jealous as I have to work within the nHS 'box'!

srtames said...

My house has 4 cracked chimney pots. What did you consider to be cheap to replace a pot?


Rob Clack said...

I've not had it done but a quick google yielded 2 hits. One guy had been quoted about £100, while another had quotes in the £125 - £250 range. It's bound to vary wildly, depending on lots of obvious factors about your home and that particular chimney, but there are also questions of broken tiles, the inherent dangers, etc. I'll be interested to hear how you get on.

david jones said...

you mnentioned repairing your cracked chimney pot: how was it to be repaired? thanks

Rob Clack said...

I can only think of two ways to fix a cracked chimney pot - in my case, I could have had someone wind a piece of stout wire around the top and twist it tight, which would stop the pot from splitting in half when the sweep shoves his brush up there.

The only alternative is to remove the old pot and fit a new one, which obviously means removing all the old flaunching and fixing the new pot in place with fresh cement.

In the latter case, I'd expect the job to require some scaffolding, which would add to the cost, of course.

Toby Almy said...

Pretty insightful take on chimney matters. Chimneys can sometimes get the short shrift in assessing the general well-being of a house, particularly as structures. Yet, they are just as essential in that regard, mainly because they add symmetry and also because their damage can eat into and chip off, say, the roof, through scraping, debris or whatnot. Hope you've settled at an economically workable solution for this particular concern.

Toby @ Tittle Brothers Construction

Rob Clack said...

Hi Toby

I have found a chimney sweep who knows that the pot is cracked and uses a smaller diameter brush for the very top. He also happens to be one of our local firemen!