21 February 2024

GETTING THE CHIMNEY SWEPT third time not so lucky after all and awkward confrontations.

Well, it turns out that the chimney sweeping was not such a good job after all!  Due to the mild weather we didn't light the kitchen fire for several days after having it swept and when we did...............disaster!

On the front of the wood burner there is a lever that sends the heat to mainly the hot plates or around the oven.  When we don't want to use the oven we pull the lever out so that the hot plates heat the room better.

When Nick lit the fire and pulled out the lever smoke was coming out of everywhere, into the room and clearly not going up the chimney!  There was obviously a blockage somewhere.  A hard packed clump of soot can catch fire.

Fortunately Nick had only just put a couple of logs in the fire to get it going and not yet built it up so we decided to just let it go out, keeping an eye on it.

The next morning, when the fire was completely cold, we investigated.  On lifting the largest hotplate we could see that that chamber had not been cleaned out but that would not explain the blockage.  We had no option but to contact the ramonage company and get them back.  

This is something we always find so difficult.  

Normally we are determined to manage by ourselves but we had doubts about being able to get our problem across well enough to get it resolved.  Usually we make sure we are armed with the right terms to explain things but we can easily be bamboozled by someone who does not want to admit they are in the wrong, taking advantage of our limited grasp of the language.  This has happened before.  We called for help! 

Nick spoke to our lovely builder's wife, who had recommended the company as they use them frequently for other customers.  She phoned them and explained the problem and they said they would come the next day which was a relief.  We just had to get through one whole night of worrying about it!

This time just one van arrived with the most charming young man to do the job.  We managed to explain what had happened and what we thought the problem was.  

He got on the phone to the person that had been in charge of cleaning the fire last time and, with the speaker on we could hear that "words" were exchanged, even if we only understood half of them!  My French was good enough to say that the company had been recommended by a friend that uses them for all their clients and that we were very disappointed.  He got the gist!

After a good deal of poking, prodding and serious hoovering the problem was resolved.  A huge amount of extra soot and cinders dropped down the chimney from where they had stuck.   By the time the young man had finished the whole thing was so clean you could have eaten your dinner off it!   He stayed for long enough for us to get the fire going and demonstrate that all was well.  As indeed it was.  Fourth time lucky!!

On our way to the shops the other day, we passed a house that had had a serious fire within the last few days.  The roof was completely gone and burnt belongings including children's toys were scattered all over the garden.  We have no idea what had happened.  It might have been a chimney fire or an electrical fault but we hope that the family and their pets are all safe.  You can't be too careful with fires.


  1. Glad you got there in the end. Sometimes I feel we are constantly calling tradespeople back to finish a job properly but, expectations aside, there are some things you just can’t take chances on.

    1. To be fair, most of the tradespeople we have encountered in France have done a good job but challenging the less good ones is not easy. Admitting they are wrong does not seem to come naturally!

    2. I just suddenly realized I can comment here! I'm glad you're plugged up chimney didn't cause a bigger problem. It was good to get the woman you know to intervene.

    3. Good job getting that dangerous situation sorted out.

    4. Ken, it could have been very serious.
      The man that didn't clean it properly the first time was clearly arguing about it but the young man that came to fix the problem did a good job.

  2. Oh goodness, that's awful. And as you say, the results could have been much more dramatic.