Long before modern woodburners and multi fuel stoves became popular, homes were heated by a different kind of closed appliance.
Back boiler solid fuel appliances were among the first sort of central heating, especially in areas where gas supplies were limited.
Among the most common brands were Parkray and Rayburn. Although not as common as they once were, there’s still the odd one knocking around. Indeed, some of my customers still have free fuel delivered – a concession they derived from their previous jobs as miners.
As a child, we had a Parkray, which heated our hot water, so I always smile when I see one on my rounds.
However, there are some people who have them but don’t get the flue swept as regularly as they should. And that can cause big problems.
A number of those who still use their appliances burn phurnacite which, as any experienced sweep will tell you, is as tough as old boots.
The problem is that over the years it cakes the flue in layers, slowly building up and, inch by inch, blocks the chimney (you can actually see the layers in the main photo).
Getting these deposits out of a chimney is very tough going. It is literally rock-hard, and requires some quite skilled use of specialist sweeping equipment to get it out. Trust me, a simple brush will not cut it.
So, what’s the answer? Well, like most things, prevention is better than cure – and that means getting the chimney swept regularly by a sweep who understands how to tackle this work.
That last bit is very important as some sweeps rarely see this problem and therefore don’t understand how to tackle it and moreover don’t have the necessary equipment in the first place.
Back boiler systems, by their nature, can tend to be very sooty so even if you’re not using phurnacite, it really needs sweeping regularly. Otherwise you could be left out in the cold in more ways than one…
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.