Last year we had to get in a contractor to cut down a substantial cherry tree that had completely died. We arranged for the wood to be cut up into useable firewood and stored to dry out.
We had a decorative but impractical open fire in the living room installed when the house was extended in the 1970s, with a winding flue rising through a large block of masonry to act as a kind of primitive storage heater. We were warned when we bought the house that is was very smoky and useless as a source of heating – something which we demonstrated ourselves on the several times when we did optimistically try to use it.
We would have liked an enclosed stove, but that would have required a tubular exhaust fitted inside the chimney and the flue – and the bends at the bottom within the block of masonry prevented one being fitted. So we have had to leave it as an open fire.
However, by bricking in the open corner fireplace on one side, fitting a modern cowl on top of the chimney stack to reduce down drafts, clearing out the underfloor air supply and fitting in a fire basket to bring yet more air under the fire to ensure complete combustion we hoped to be able to use it.
And now we’re glad to report that a trial run yesterday afternoon and evening went well. Of course the chimney and the brickwork were cold at the start, but even so we didn’t get any downdraughts and got enough heat to be able to reduce our gas use by a couple of hours. It’s a start!
And for when the fireplace is not in use we have a large felted woolen plug – artfully marketed as a “Chimney Sheep” – to stop the chimney syphoning all our expensively warmed air inside the house up and outside to warm the pigeons’ toes.