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
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
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
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
And finally…something silly! Behold the Beacon!
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.
Don’t panic – this isn’t another fitness blog reminding you that you need to get moving for your health! But it is pretty serious I’m afraid. It’s all about ‘slumbering’ your wood burner…
Wood burners (and multi-fuel stoves) are a wonderful addition to any home and can offer a great alternative to using the central heating all the time. In general, people who have had them installed recently and had contact with the installer are advised about the use. Unfortunately many of us have moved into a home where there is a wood burner – indeed this may have been a key selling point – and maybe there are no instructions for best, and or safe, use.
Here’s the technical bit: Burning incorrect wood or burning wood incorrectly can produce creosote (commonly referred to as tar). If you burn poorly seasoned wood (with a high moisture content) or ‘soft’ wood – pine/leylandii, etc. which is very ‘sappy’, this will result in the production of ‘tar’.
If you ‘slumber’ your woodburner – burn it very slowly during the day or try to leave it in overnight this will also result in the production of ‘tar’.
You might be asking yourself what the problem is with a tarred up flue – there are two main issues: the tar is very difficult to remove and is flammable. It builds up over time, increasing the risk of a chimney fire. In addition, the flue itself will decrease in size as more tar builds…this in turn will slow the draw of the flue and will result in more tar being deposited. This may also mean that carbon monoxide will be less able to escape and it is possible that carbon monoxide poisoning might occur.
To avoid this, in general terms, burn well-seasoned hardwood logs at the correct temperature (between 300 to 600 F – or 150 to 300 C). A stove thermometer will help and ‘tarring’ should be avoided.
Of course – it is also really important to have your chimney swept. And we recommend that you have this done as you stop using it – not as the winter begins. Your sweep will have more time to sort any problems and you’ll be ready for any cold nights. The fire service recommend sweep EVERY 3 MONTHS when in use…and we recommend three items that will help you: a stove thermometer, carbon monoxide alarm and HotSpot – a product designed to help.
We’ve written before about the best wood to burn so you can check here: BEST WOOD TO BURN?
Here’s to safety that makes sense.
We look forward to your call to book in a sweep…
We know, too, that a number of people believe that chimney sweeping must be on the wane – a dying craft – when nothing could be further from the truth. The need for our services is more relevant than ever (and from a business established in 1895 we think we might know a think or too about that…) and we pride ourselves on helping new and experienced users of fires, multifuel and woodburning stoves, as well as AGA, Rayburn and the more recent biomass boilers, to follow best practice.
We believe that having your woodburner chimney swept mid-burning season will help you to check that what you’re burning and the temperature you’re burning at is not causing problems. A good chimney sweep will advise you on the use of your stove, guide you on what to burn and the quality of your wood supply plus tell you if the mid-season sweep is critical or you seem to be handling things well…this will give you peace of mind!
It’s been a mild winter so far and many people have used their fires to take the chill off and not use their heating. The annual sweep (minimum advised by the fire service and many home insurance companies) is still important and can help to keep you safe by preventing or limiting the chances of a chimney fire.
So give your chimney sweep a call – we can help!
(P.S. Chimney fire statistics are poorly reported and it’s difficult to gain an accurate picture – the most current figures available are 2013/14 when 7,700 chimney fires were reported. To add to the problem of these statistic, if a house is burned down as a result of a chimney fire, the figure is not recorded as a chimney fire but as a house fire – it is possible that there is more data missing.)
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.
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.
Always buy the best you can, or ensure that you ‘season (the drying process) the wood. HAPPY (and safe) BURNING SEASON!
There’s a great little poem to guide you:
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.
Note: birch bark is extremely flammable even when wet; it makes an excellent fire starter if you have lots lying around.