Every Sweep Day’s a School Day

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The phrase “every day is a school day” is one that I have heard more than once and so every sweep day is a school day too for me as I have been developing professionally as a Chimney Sweep.

Some may think it a bad idea to share their mistakes on line particularly if you are trying to sell a service, but to be honest everyone knows that we are all human and bound to make mistakes and that means everyone. The key is obviously to learn from them and actually from an outsiders perspective it’s very much about how professionally the person manages the impact of those mistakes, and in business how little it impacts on the customer.

This is my big sweeping lesson of the year (so far). “Do your homework.” Let me introduce you to the Contura 510 wood burning stove. Swedish manufactured. Can only be swept with very specific equipment in a specific way. In Sweden they are swept from above through the top of the flue with a weight and brush. They have a fixed metal plate inside the burner just beneath the flue opening which precludes a normal liner “mole” brush and standard rods. Unusually for me I didn’t ask the customer for the details of their burner before going to sweep and was confronted by this magnificent specimen in the corner of the lounge with nothing in the instruction manual to say how you sweep it! That’s not unusual by the way.

So, I tried my best with what I was presented with and with what I thought my ample equipment was capable of with a disastrous result, every sweeps nightmare, yes a lost brush. I realised I must have disengaged the clips on the brush head just as I was trying to manipulate it around the fixed metal baffle into the flue.

Sweep over at that point. Only a suitably qualified installer should dismantle a flue. I was then in the hands of the installer to come and remove my brush, who luckily I knew.

In the meantime, if the professional embarrassment at that point wasn’t enough I was sent a U-Tube clip courtesy of RPS who had done a whole 24 minute tutorial on how and with what to sweep the Contura 510. Of course, this was available to me the evening before, if only I had done my homework!

Within a week the brush was removed and I was back bursting with confidence and the necessary knowledge to nail the Contura once and for all, also taking the opportunity to experiment with other forms of dust protection other than soot cloths by using polythene sheeting to seal the aperture to the combustion chamber.

Having paid for the retrieval of my mole brush this was a no profit sweep but the lessons learnt were significant and so that’s why I always try and get as much information about the appliance I’m sweeping before I arrive on site by asking the relevant questions as part of the initial conversation.


Contura 510 wood burning stove

Swept with glass door polished ready for lighting

The only sweeping head for the Contura
Rapid light loader sweeping head with 8mm rods. The only tools for the job.

Contura 510 wood burning stove
All prepared for the sweep. First experiment with clear polythene for dust prevention with magnets.