We had the chimney swept this week. No fires have been lit since it was last done but the insurance company insist that it is swept again regardless. And it raises the thorny issue, once more, of just what to do about the woodburner.
Much has been written about the use of a woodburner in a thatched (straw roof) house and none of it makes particularly cheerful reading. The stove generates considerably more heat in the chimney than would be the case with a traditional open fire. Heat then transfers through the brickwork of the stack and into the thatch, so much heat that it some circumstances it can cause the straw to spontaneously combust. Once in the thatch, a fire spreads fast. In a village nearby a thatch fire recently damaged a whole terrace of cottages where, allegedly, a woodburner was in use.
Our chimney has previously been lined, with the best quality liner available. And it’s insulated with pumice chips around that. The debate is whether even this is enough. Some authors suggest that a liner in fact contributes to another problem, by increasing the chance that burning embers will make it up through the chimney and out on to the surface of the thatch. My inclination is just not to use the woodburner at all. Earlier in the year we got an estimate for removing the whole lot, restoring the chimney and returning to an open fire. £2500. Ouch.
So in the meantime we carry on paying to sweep a perfectly clean chimney. AND pay the additional insurance premium for having a woodburner installed. It’s not even pretty to look at, while it’s sitting there generating no heat…