A significant amount of my time involves helping customers work out what needs doing, whether this is looking at something already in place or thinking about something brand new. I also help with formal inspection reports and certification for insurance and house purchase purposes.
If you are thinking about installing a new fire or stove, then getting the right quality of expert advice early on can save a lot of time and money. It can also help alert you to things which could frustrate and cause issues longer term. With new installations I am happy to help with an initial review and this is a service I provide free of charge irrespective of whether you subsequently choose to use me for supply or installation.
Likely problems with existing fires, stoves and chimneys can sometimes be quite easy to diagnose. There is no charge for a quick chat on the phone but if you need me to carry out an onsite inspection, then I do levy a small call out charge to offset my costs. This covers everything up to about half an hour on site. As standard with every advisory visit I am happy to include a base level of chimney safety test and checking for any drawing problems. I also where appropriate use remote camera technology, to help identify and then explain to you any particular issues.
Sometimes a good bit more than half an hour of my time will be required, to work out what is going on, particularly if the problem needs me to get my ladders out and investigate up at roof level. If this is the case, I will let you know in advance and agree a fair approach to pricing. If, once diagnosed, I can fairly easily fix the problem at the same time, then I will of course be happy to do this, keeping your overall costs to a minimum.
In relation to larger scale more formal inspections, I am qualified to a level which allows me to carry out all types of reviews, reports and conformance testing for insurance and other purposes.
Fires, Stoves and in particular their chimneys, without maintenance, become dangerous over time and need to be regularly checked for safety and properly cleaned. This helps ensure that they are working as efficiently as possible but also minimizes the risk of your chimney catching fire or of poisonous gases starting to build up inside your home.
I started out as a sweep and alongside all of my installation work, basic safety checks and a good sweep still represents a good deal of my regular work. Most people are not aware of how important regular cleaning and servicing are and I will always try to help make sure people are safe.
As my business has grown I have invested in specialist tools which help me do an even better job. For example remote camera technology allows me to see exactly what is going on even in hidden recesses whilst power sweeping equipment enables me to carry out a far more intensive cleaning than could otherwise be achieved. It’s a lot quicker, it’s a lot less messy and leaves you with a chimney which Santa would want to climb down.
Much as I am impressed by the amazing efficiency of a brand new, modern stove the work I often find most satisfying is helping bring a traditional, much cherished one back to life and vigour.
Old stoves, fire surrounds, chimneys and chimney pots may be part of the heritage of the property or simply have sentimental value and be such a central part of the character of a home that changing them can feel like a bit of a crime and also undermine the long term value of your home.
Fortunately, a lot can usually be done to bring more traditional installations back to their former glory. Subtle enhancements can also sometimes be added which make them work even better today than they did in their prime.
With a bit of patience, most good quality old stoves can be refurbished to look fantastic and work efficiently, with many parts replaceable and things like cracked glass and damaged seals easily fixable. Measures to help push warm air out from around the stove and into the room can be introduced and the whole look of the fire can be improved by carefully considered changes to the hearth and surround.
Similarly, with a chimney that has fallen into disrepair, is providing a home for unwanted visitors or just doesn’t work properly there are options varying from reduction of moisture ingress, through improving the draw to removing downdrafts.
Chimney stacks can be repaired, a cage or cowl can be added to prevent birds nesting or reduce downdrafts or a chimney can be relined.
One note of caution with older chimneys is with regard to compliance with modern building regulations. These regulations are in place to keep you safe but because they are constantly evolving many old chimneys have been left a long way behind. In a few cases they may require major structural work if they are ever to be brought back into operation. If something is not safe, I need to be absolutely clear with you but I will also do my best to put myself in your shoes and suggest a practical way to deal with the situation.
Modern stoves provide not only a wonderful focal point to a room but are also now incredibly efficient and clean. Installations can also be configured to heat multiple rooms and your water.
Stove installation work has always been a significant part of my work but as my business has developed customers have increasingly asked me to advise and supply the stoves as well.
I don’t hold stocks or operate a large showroom but I do understand what works well in a particular space. Also which appliances tend to be most reliable and problem free long term and those which, although meeting basic standards, are generally best avoided. My main focus is to make the whole process of choosing and installing as painless as possible for my customers but actually, not carrying large overheads, also means that I can generally supply at quite a keen price.
Looking at lots of glossy stoves too early can actually be quite confusing. Instead I like to start with understanding not only the type of thing you have in mind but doing a proper survey of where you want to put it. I can then come up with a shortlist of stoves which I know would work well in the space. I do have a few favorites but can be persuaded to install most things as long as they meet building and safety standards and are not of a quality which is storing up problems for the future.