Christmas tree

Come on Baby Light My Fire – the essential guide to Christmas gifts for the open-fire lover!

Are you looking for a ‘different’ Christmas present for someone this year? That one person who seems to have everything and needs nothing?  Well, the elves at Wilkins Towers have had a hunt around the internet for some fun, quirky and unusual chimney, wood and fire related gifts that might just help you out of a tricky gift giving conundrum this Christmas.

If the person like fires, wood, trees or gardens, they are probably going to LOVE one of these (we’d like the chainsaw course please.)

On a serious note, whilst our list may save your Christmas present giving reputation, the first gift on the lift may actually save someone’s life so could we recommend one in each stocking? This year we adopted the Katie Haines Memorial Trust as our charity of the year; Katie died of carbon monoxide poisoning shortly after she got married and we’re working with the Trust to spread the word about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Wherever you are this Christmas – please stay safe, have fun and enjoy the holidays!

Peter, Louise and Gerry the Cat x

The Wilkins Chimney Sweep Guide to the ‘hottest’ chimney-related Christmas presents around!

Click on the item if you want to find them online – other suppliers may be available!

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

 

At Wilkins we sell a ‘standard’ look, but top quality, carbon monoxide alarm (Honeywell XC90). But for something a bit different we think this NEST smoke and CO alarm combo is pretty attractive. An essential piece of equipment for all fireplace users. LINK TO NEST STORE

Companion Set

 

Whilst we love old-fashioned designs this wall hung companion set attracted us because it is so unusual. Pretty sure Austin Powers would describe it as ‘Groovy Baby.’ LINK TO FIREPLACE PRODUCTS

Stove Fan

 

Did you know that this handy device, when placed on top of your wood-burning or multi-fuel stove, pushes the heat around your home? They are brilliant and can really make a difference in a big room, we highly recommend them. They are mostly utilitarian in appearance (there’s a market there surely?) but we found this lovely fan that reminded us of reindeer antlers! FIND ME ON GEARBEST

Wood Storage – Indoors

 

We hope by now, if you have read any of our other blog posts, you’ll know it is REALLY important you only burn DRY wood (wet wood releases tar which sticks to the inside of the chimney which can, in turn ignite, causing a chimney fire.)  Achieve safety and beauty with this ingenious indoor log store that will let your logs dry out beautifully in just a few days. We saw this one at a local show – and thought it was particularly appropriate as it looks like a Christmas candle. SEE THE RANGE HERE AT ARDOUR LIVING

Wood Storage – Outdoors

 

If you have longer to dry out your logs how about this beauty? We thought ‘5 Gold Rings’ when we saw this one! Wood that is stored to dry out still benefits from air circulating through it, so this design is great. Pop a tarp over it in the wet weather. SEARCH WORM.CO.UK!

 

Make your own logs – paper log maker

Are you forever at the local garage buying bags of logs? Why not make your own from old newspapers? This brilliant little contraption will help you save £££’s on your yearly log bill. Simply soak the paper in water until it is mushy, load into the log maker and press down to expel all the water. Leave to try and voila, free logs! LOOK FOR ME ON PAPERLOGMAKER

 Grow your own logs – plant your own willow wood

 

If you use your fire a lot, own a small bit of land and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, why not grow your own wood? A Somerset company runs day courses to teach you all you need to know to plant, maintain and harvest your very own willow wood. The course is £60, next one in early Feb and the ‘grow your own’ kit starts at £65! CONTACT THE WILLOWBANK

Cut down your own wood – with a professional chain saw course

If you already have the wood but need to know how to cut it down properly, this course might be more suitable. At a cost of £195 per person, the two-day course combines training and assessment and candidates who achieve an acceptable standard will be awarded a Lantra Awards Certificate of Training (valid for 5 years). This course is suitable for someone who intends to use the chainsaw for business, domestic or leisure activities, but does not intend to work in forestry, arboricultural activities or work on Forestry Commission land, or fell trees over 200mm in diameter. (HSE). BOOK YOUR CHAINSAW TRAINING!

And finally…something silly! Behold the Beacon!

Be the envy of everyone in the street, with your very our own beacon! Imagine directing people to your house, ‘past the post box on the right, 200 yards down, we’re the house with a Mondeo in the drive and a 20ft flaming beacon in the front garden. You can’t miss us.’
We’re not entirely sure of the legality of this (so do check with the suppliers) but we know we’d give anything to see it! Bullfinch Gas have supplied hand held torches and beacons to events such as the 2012 London Olympics Relay Torch and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee so they really know their stuff. To see the full range: BULLFINCH 

That brings us to the end of our lift of chimney-related gifts for Christmas 2017. If you buy any of them we’d love to see a photo (especially if it is the beacon!)

Wishing you a very happy Christmas from the Wilkins Team.

 

Day 3: Chimney Fire Safety Week – Fuel!

At Wilkins Chimney Sweep, we often find ourselves having to guide customers in the safe use of their chimneys – and fuel is the key ingredient of that discussion. Burning the right fuel could save you money and prevent the build-up of creosote (tar) on your chimney lining. Ultimately it could prevent a chimney fire…

This blog would be about a mile long (and just a tad tedious!) if we gave you the full story about fuels so we’ve decided that it’s best to simply point you in the right direction of where you can find full details. The following are the best links we know that should guide you on fuel:

SOLID FUEL

Whilst some appliances, such as open fires, can burn a variety of fuels, many are more limited.  Please check with a ‘qualified’ person or the instruction book of your particular appliance if in doubt.

 

The Solid Fuel Association – not just a cute logo – is the official body representing the solid fuel industry in the UK. Fuels include coal, smokeless fuels, Anthracite and wood (including pellets and chips). It’s a really good place to start.

OIL

 

For all oil-fired appliances, OFTEC are a good place to start. If you’re burning oil you will still need the services of a chimney sweep to keep your flue clear if your regular servicing engineer doesn’t do this work. 

FIRE LOGS

Proprietary brands of manufactured logs are available made from either wax and wood bi-products or fully natural made from straw etc.  These produce similar or slightly more heat than burning logs.  They are easy to light and store, due to their uniform shape.  They also produce less soot and ash and can be more environmentally friendly depending on the type used.

 

WOOD

Wood is, of course, covered in the ‘Solid Fuel’ category but is such a significant part of the burning ‘challenge’ that we think some pointers are valuable.

The ‘Ready to Burn’ campaign by WOODSURE is a great place to start – and the Ready to Burn logo is an excellent guide for those who buy wood in small quantities for almost immediate use.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]

For kindling, use small pieces of ‘hard or ‘soft’ wood to assist in starting the fire. Birch bark is extremely flammable even when wet; it makes an excellent fire starter if you have lots lying around.

For those who are able to buy wood in bulk  and have room to season it themselves we have put together the TOP 3 woods to burn…and 3 to avoid for burning – although we do recommend roasting the fruit of the chestnut tree: it’s what open fires were made for! Remember however: Always buy the best you can, or ensure that you ‘season’ (the drying process) the wood.

TOP 3:

APPLE

OAK

ASH

3 TO AVOID:

PINE

ELM

CHESTNUT

And finally, there’s a great little poem to guide you:

WOODBURNER’S GUIDE:

Beech wood fires are bright and clear

If the logs are kept a year.

Chestnut’s only good, they say,

If for long it’s laid away.

Birch and fir logs burn too fast,

Blaze up bright and do not last.

It is by the Irish said,

Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.

Elm wood burns like a churchyard mould,

E’en the very flames are cold.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,

Fills your eyes and makes you choke.

Apple wood will scent your room

With an incense like perfume.

Oak and maple, if dry and old,

Keep away the winter cold.

But Ash wood wet or Ash wood dry,

A king shall warm his slippers by.

Safe burning to everyone!

Louise Harris

Franchise Director, Wilkins Chimney Sweep

 

Happy New year 2016

Happy New year!

The warm weather has made for an interesting season for us. People have still prepared themselves for winter as usual and the Wilkins Chimney Sweep team have been hard at work. The weather, though, has meant that customers aren’t using their chimneys much yet – indeed many have barely worn a winter coat so far this winter.

Like everyone, including the weather forecasters it appears, we have no idea what the weather will bring – not so long ago the forecast was for the worst winter on record (indeed we blogged in September following ‘severe weather warnings’ that never materialised)– and before that the hottest summer! It’s good to be prepared for when the cold truly sets in for sure – but only time will tell when that is. Our thoughts are with the victims of the floods and the teams working to help keep them safe, recover their property and help them move back to their homes quickly.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

We’ve been working with landlords to help them keep on the right side of the law with new regulations on carbon monoxide alarms in tenanted properties (it’s not just a smoke alarm that’s required now) and have been able to ensure that all our customers have a suitable CO Alarm in place to keep them safe when using their woodburners, open fires etc.

As a final seasonal reminder – don’t burn that Christmas tree – and here’s why…Christmas Tree – it was great to see the East Cambridgeshire folk taking a resonsible approach to recycling their trees and hope that there are similar warnings (and facilities) nationally. Recycle your tree

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of the Wilkins Chimney Sweep customers and suppliers a warm, safe and Happy New Year 2016. We hope that we will be your choice again in 2016 and beyond and look forward to seeing you.

 

 

A Christmas Greeting (with a seasonal note of caution)

We’re sorry to advise that Good King Wenceslas may not have been quite the ‘good’ King we sing about. You might recall the words of the song indicate that the ‘poor man’ was gathering winter fuel. As a result, the King ordered that he be brought pine logs to deliver to the ‘poor man’.

Our Autumn blog, as a result of many questions (http://www.wilkinschimneysweep.co.uk/which-wood-to-burn/) advised Ash for the King to ‘warm his slippers by’ – and pine doesn’t feature at all on the list of woods to burn!

Everyone is discouraged from burning pine wood as it has an exceptionally high resin content; this resin becomes creosote (tar) when burnt and is very likely to ‘tar up’ the flue.

Tar is a problem for a number of reasons:

  • It is frequently cited as the cause of chimney fires
  • A chimney fire can damage the chimney (including woodburner flues)

There is a similar problem with our lovely Christmas trees – and the needles and small branches may ‘flare’ when burnt and could ignite any residual soot or tar in the chimney! So, however tempting it is to throw that tree on the fire at twelfth night, this wood cannot be seasoned and may result in serious problems, so please resist the urge!

From all at WILKINS CHIMNEY SWEEP, we wish our current (and future!) customers a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a safe burning season.

Fire

 

Merry Christmas!

We’re wishing all of our fabulously loyal and supportive customers a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2014. Thank you for using WILKINS CHIMNEY SWEEP – we hope that you enjoy using your fireplaces and woodburners this festive season – relax and keep safe.

We’ve supported The Katies Haines Trust during our Christmas regional meetings and wearing our lovely Christmas jumpers – please make sure your Carbon Monoxide alarm is on, charged and working to keep you safe whilst using your fires, woodburners and stoves…

(And please look out for advice coming soon on NOT burning your Christmas tree!)

The official Wilkins Chimney Sweep Christmas tree!

The official Wilkins Chimney Sweep Christmas tree!

Merry Christmas from WILKINS CHIMNEY SWEEP

 

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