Chimney fixed…!

Since we put the stove back in, following the installation of the new hearth stone, it has been drawing really slowly and keeping a nice slow burn. This has meant we’re getting through far less wood than last winter, when we were chucking wood on and needing to keep quite a high burn to get a decent internal temperature in the house.

I had thought this was mainly to do with the new external insulated render, which we had installed in March last year.

It turns out, it was far more to do with the fact that the flu pipe which comes up directly from the stove wasn’t even connected to the chimney liner! It was burning slowly because there was very little air flow up the chimney. I had discovered smoke collecting in the loft. This had been an issue we experienced before we had the chimney lined and was due to smoke getting through the small gaps in the stacks mortar. The idea of the liner was that the smoke wouldn’t even enter the main chimney, but be carried up the liner and out from the cowel at the top of the chimney pot. Claire had already called a chimney company who had said it sounded like a torn liner.

So, my hunch was that there wasn’t a liner tear and thought immediately it was a connection problem, mainly because the stove had recently been re-fitted. First thing I saw when I inspected it yesterday morning was the image above!

It took about 1.5 hours to get the register plate off, check the problem, fix the pipes together again and fix the register plate back up + clean and hoover all around. Not bad and I know it’s fairly easy to do if the stove needs to be taken out again.

The result of the re-connection is the stove is eating the wood up at a fierce rate! Maybe twice the rate as before but a bit less heat coming out into the room. Much more heat is now just going up the chimney and not being held in the stove. The solution to this problem is fairly simple: a stove damper.

This fits into the flu pipe, above the stove and below the service door, and can be turned to let more or less air up the liner. Some air is always allowed up through it though. The chrome handle matches the stove and it was only about £13. This will hopefully allow us to control the fire much more precisely and be able to leave it on very low while we’re out of the house for a few hours. It does require two holes to be drilled in the flu pipe but this shouldn’t be a problem (famous last words!).


Loft insulation update…

We had a contractor come by the other day to check the loft insulation. It’s a free scheme from the Energy Saving Trust. I had already rolled out a fair bit of sheeps wool insulation, over the beams of the bedrooms and hallway, which I hadn’t got around to installing between the roof joists.

Anyway, the guy said i’d done a brilliant job and there wasn’t anything else they could do! The partial boarding which was already down around the middle of the loft would also insulate to a certain degree anyway and it was overall more insulation than they would have put down. That’s one less job to worry about.

Now the only insulation issue is to tackle the loft hatch. A new insulated wooden loft hatch would be something like £180, but this is the main reason why the cold air just falls from the loft and down the stairs, ending up in the living room!

We might try and install an insulated panel, which fits above the loft hatch, which can be removed when necessary, but which will stop the drafts. We rarely need to go up there anyway and it would pretty much cut out all the cold air from the loft.

Also, still waiting for the quote from the insulated external render people. The company who just came round to look at the loft will also provide a quote for the render.


Home insulation…

Exciting insulation-related news… You could save a bit of money and CO2!

A colleague at work sent around a link to the Energy Saving Trust website which has a grants section. Apparently if you have kids under 16, you can get a grant for 100% free loft insulation. This is one of the cheapest (usually) and most effective ways to save on the heating bills. I had already gone through the EST to get a couple of quotes for installation which came back as only £125, which I thought was a really good deal, considering the time and materials involved!

The other insulation we’re in the process of investigating is insulated render, for the side and back of the house. As we’ve just installed new double-glazed windows to the front + as we like the brick and render character of the house type, we’ll leave the front alone and just focus on the rest.

We’ve been researching any suitable rendering companies who can fit this sort of system. There was a guy in Stroud who did this but he went under or just stopped doing it! So, after 5 or 6 calls around and lots of web searching, I found a contractor in Bristol, called the Joyner Group. I talked to the MD Mr Joyner, who sounded really enthusiastic and into the subject. He got Paul, one of his surveyors to contact me. He came around today to measure up and get some details. I found out a lot more about the various processes and there’s nothing stopping us going for it, except the cost!

So, the system is either a 50-60 mm phenolic insulation, or a 90-100 mm polystyrene type, both to achieve a U-Value of 0.35, which is the current buildings regs standard for new homes – toasty warm! The system Paul suggested was the Weber Therm XM K1.5mm acrylic, with stippled finish.

Data sheet here: 07_001_weber_therm_XM_01

This sounds technical, but it’s basically the insulation, stuck to the wall, with plastic reinforcing fixings, with several coats of different render material applied over it, with a coloured and stippled finish, with acrylic for water-proofing. It’s designed to be flexible, to respond to extreme variations in temperature and has a 30 year guarantee.

We can choose any colour for the render – Claire immediately said PINK! I said…ummm….NO! Well, i’m open to something bold, but maybe not pink, although i’ve stayed in a couple of pink cottages in Ireland which actually looked really good, particularly the contrast with the green landscape!

So, with this plus the internal insulation upstairs, we should be toasty over the winter, assuming we can actually afford to go ahead with the render. Paul’s going to get us the quote back in the next week and he said from placing the order to the end of the work is 2 weeks! Bloody hell.