You probably won't be aware that this week is National Chimney Fire Safety Week. With weeks for pretty much everything nowadays, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is one that you may not need to bother about - but in fact it is all about reminding you to check your chimneys before you start using fires or stoves as the chilly weather approaches.
One of the main causes of chimney fires is people using unseasoned or wet wood or not having their chimney swept. Over the years, we've had a number of customers who've thought they had a problem with their chimneys only to discover that they hadn't swept them for years and a visit from the sweep quickly sorted out the problem. All chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year - and you should get a sweep certified by the National Association of Chimney Sweeps to do the job. At Westcombes, we can recommend someone to you.
Chimney fires may not sound dangerous, but they really can be extremely dangerous so do stay safe and get your chimney swept regularly and use good quality fuel.
The summer holidays are just beginning, and enjoying a sunny day in London is probably the priority for many of us in the coming weeks. Heating may be the last thing on your mind right now, but the summer months are the ideal time to buy a fireplace or woodburning stove.
Don't wait until that first chilly autumn evening arrives to think about getting that stove or fire, come and pay us a visit at Westcombes now and have your stove or fireplace ready and installed for when the sun goes in and the colder weather arrives!
Apologies to anyone trying to get through to us by phone. Unfortunately there is a fault on the line which BT Open Reach are apparently aware of and are trying to fix. The line went down on Thursday morning and we were promised it would take a maximum of 48 hours to fix.
At the time of writing, it is still not up and running. Talk Talk, our provider, are helpfully closed at Bank Holidays and weekends. We are extremely unhappy with the service which is affecting all three lines into the shop and would like to pass on our apologies to all our customers.
We can assure you that will be looking into finding a new provider once the Bank Holiday is over!
There was an interesting item recently on BBC Radio Four's You and Yours programme about wood theft from forests. Although many people think it's fine to pick up any wood which you may see lying around if you're out on a walk in woods or a forest, it is actually theft and you need to get permission from the landowner before collecting wood. Apparently, some offices of the Forestry Commission offer members of the public the possibility of purchasing the rather wonderfully titled Firewood Scavenging Permit which will allow you to pick up wood for your woodburner. Rotting wood is an important part of the forest ecosystem, which is why landowners don't want it all taken away.
It is, however, legal to pick up drift wood from a public beach below the high water mark!
We'd always advise caution when using wood you've picked up yourself anyway as you need to leave it to dry out first and this takes a long time. We sell moisture meters at Westcombes which will help you to work out when your wood is ready to use. Never use unseasoned, damp wood as it will not burn properly, will produce a lot of smoke and can clog up your chimney and stain the glass.
We sell a range of kiln-dried logs, kindling and flamers which we always recommend to our customers as you will find it easier to light your stove and it will burn more effectively and efficiently.