Lighting procedure: The Swiss Method

All chimneys work on the same basic principle; hot air rises. When a chimney is warm it will heat the air within, which will rise. This warm air will then be replaced by cooler air being drawn up the chimney, this is what we call “draw”. If a chimney has been left for a long period without airflow the chimney is cold and the air within will not move, we call this a “cold plug” which essentially stops the flue from drawing. The Swiss Fire Lighting method consisting of logs on the bottom, kindling above, and a fire lighter on the top puts the initial heat into the flue creating a draw before you have smoke. Bringing the flue up to temperature early will help keep a stove glass clear and increase the efficiency of the appliance.

 

Fuel:

Logs or Solid Fuel Logs: There are a few variants on the wood we burn these are kiln-dried, seasoned and wet wood, ideally we want to be burning wood with a moisture content below 20%.

-Kiln dried wood – as the name suggests is dried in a kiln to below 2% Moisture content. This is the most expensive option but great if you’re buying small quantities when buying large quantities or storing logs outside or in a log store, the moisture content will be affected by relative humidity, in Pembrokeshire through the summer we have an average relative humidity of 57% in winter it can reach 87%

-Seasoned Wood – This is air dried and should have a moisture content below 20%. This is the most common form of wood used in wood-burning stoves. It’s cheaper to buy in large quantities and is less affected by relative humidity. Commonly processed at home, there’s a long list of wife tales as to how long wood should be left before being dry enough to burn. In reality, a lot of factors are involved such as where the wood is stored, how the wood is stacked, the type of wood, what time of year it was cut, whether was it stored as cords or logged, etc. The easiest option if processing your wood is to invest in a moisture meter a cheap and simple device that gives a reading on the moisture content of the logs. Wet wood – is simply wood with a moisture content above 20% whether it’s been freshly cut, incorrectly seasoned, stored incorrectly, etc. This wood should NEVER be used on a wood-burning appliance.

-Solid Fuel: There are many variants of solid fuel, such as anthracite, coal, long-lasting ovals, coke, peat, and charcoal Although this is an expensive option it does have its benefits, solid fuels are a low volatility fuel; they burn hot for long periods which means they can be slumbered (left overnight) safely. Solid Fuels cannot produce creosote, meaning you are less likely to have a chimney fire if using solid fuel. Solid fuels are an ideal heat source for boiler stoves and range cookers. The downside of solid fuels is that they create a lot of ash and fly ash. Fly ash is an extremely fine ash that circulates the appliance and fills any voids it can act as an insulator preventing the stove from efficiently transferring heat, or block air channels preventing complete combustion.

 

How to burn:

-Wood: Likes a dirty bed!! Wood burns from the top down and leaving a bed of ash will increase the efficiency of your stove. **Once up to temperature keep the Primary (Bottom) vent closed and use the Secondary (top) vent to control the burn The way all stoves work is through a process known as wood gasification, rather than burning the log itself, we heat the log encouraging it to release wood gases these gases mix with hot air to combust which creates the flame we see. If the stove is not hot enough the wood releases these gasses but it doesn’t combust this is known as “slumbering”. As the stove and flue are not hot enough for complete combustion the wood gasses condense and stick to cooler surfaces, this forms Creosote, it’s essentially unburnt fuel and is the cause of the majority of chimney fires. So when burning wood you should always have a flame, this is running the stove at its optimum efficiency. NEVER SLUMBER A WOODBURNING STOVE.

 

-Solid fuel: Likes a clean bed!! Solid fuels are the opposite of wood they burn from the bottom up, and keeping the grate clear of ash will help with combustion. ***When up to temperature close the top vent and use the bottom vent to control the burn Solid fuels themselves burn, they don’t release any gasses, and don’t produce much of a flame, and because of this they produce a lot of ash which needs cleaning regularly. The pros of this are that Solid fuels cannot produce creosote and therefore can burn low and slow without causing damage to the stove or flue.

 

If in doubt the single best accessory to any woodburning appliance is a flue thermometer; this inexpensive thermometer attaches to the flue via magnets, most have simple marking of whether you’re burning at optimum efficiency, causing a creosote build-up by not burning hot enough or whether you’re too hot and are likely to cause damage to your stove or flue.

 

Open your vents:

What to do at the end of the evening before going to bed. For wood-burning appliances, the best practice is to open your vents, to burn off any remaining fire materials in the stove. This also increases the draw substantially and will help remove any particulates that have stuck to the flue throughout the day. This will vastly reduce the likelihood of a chimney fire and will prolong the life expectancy of your flue.

If burning solid fuels these appliances can be loaded ready for a long slow burn through the night, keep the fire burning low to prevent any overheating or damage to the stove and flue.

If you have a Boiler Stove / Range Cooker; due to the nature of These appliances heat taken from the stove for hot water creates cool spots throughout the stove and flue creating a build-up of creosote, the best practice for boiler stoves and range cookers is to burn wood whilst you are present and able to manage the flame. If you are unable to manage the flame for extended periods throughout the day or overnight solid fuels should be burned to keep the stove in overnight this retains the heat in the water system increasing the efficiency of the stove, and allowing it to produce heat to the room, and preventing any build-up of creosote or fly ash. I always recommend the use of a chemical chimney maintenance cleaner in conjunction with any boiler stoves burning wood, this reacts with any built-up creosote aiding the efficiency of the boiler.

 

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Lisa PhillipsLisa Phillips
17:17 04 Feb 24
Prompt and efficient and reliable service.Thanks
Louise ReesLouise Rees
23:10 22 Dec 23
Despite being very busy, Rob agreed to clean two flues and check on the woodburners. He arrived as promised and worked efficiently and cleanly, with clear explanation of each stage of the process. His wide experience and knowledge of wood burning stoves was helpful when I had questions about the stoves or the logs I was using. I can highly recommend him and will have no hesitation in booking him again in the future. A good all rounder.
Anna RichardsonAnna Richardson
10:28 13 Dec 23
Super efficient, thorough and clean! Learnt loads about how to burn and manage my fire safely.
Paul EllsiPaul Ellsi
22:20 11 Dec 23
Great service, very knowledgeable
Michael AshbridgeMichael Ashbridge
09:50 05 Dec 23
Rob did a great job and is very organised and efficient. Highly recommended. .
Jill EvansJill Evans
15:55 17 Nov 23
Rob came to sweep and inspect mine and our neighbour's chimneys following a previous bad experience. He arrived on time, was extremely thorough, happily answered any questions, showed images and explained clearly what he found, and actions required. He was easy and pleasant to have around and left no mess. I'm very pleased I found Rob to do this work for us and can highly recommend him.
Michael CarpenterMichael Carpenter
12:26 08 Nov 23
Rob provided a very thorough clean of our woodburning stove and chimney. Gave some useful advice about installing a CO2 monitor. Very knowledgeable and will definitely use him again.
J WJ W
21:58 01 Nov 23
Great service, Rob turned up on time (twice, having had to reschedule through no fault of his) and did a really thorough job, meticulously clean, friendly and helpful.
Richard TurnerRichard Turner
22:28 15 Sep 23
Would 100% recommend Rob as a chimney sweep. He did a great job of sweeping the flues for our wood burning stove and pellet boiler. He also fixed an issue with one of our flues and gave us just great advice on a couple of other issues. Very professional, tidy and reasonably priced.
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