Fireplace Seasons Greetings!

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all fine, dandy and 🙂 happy!

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post, but I have been (yet again) really busy!

Surprisingly enough, we were pretty busy with fireplaces through most of the spring and summer months, which is saying something with recent market trends in mind…

What a week I have had! I have been in London installing a number of fireplaces in a new estate-build!

I find it quite interesting that at some point in the near future – a family or individual will be snuggled up warm in front of the fire that I installed – quite a comforting thought really!

The site manager was a great fella, he bought me a coffee in every morning and treated me as one of the lads, so although the work was incredibly tiring, the week did fly!

So, what have we been getting ready for?

Well, since the fireplace season is almost upon us; we have been updating our showroom, making several additions to our website, including a stoves information page and new additions to our catalogues and catalogues page – we have a number of new catalogues that are being prepared in PDF format, by our graphic designer, which will be uploaded to our website soon…

Our showroom designer has also been working very hard, (I must say)… He has really gone to town!

He’s been creating new displays and installing new fireplaces; one in particular I like a great deal, situated near the showroom entrance, it truly is fabulous – a Frederick Allen fireplace, that in my opinion would look amazing in a contemporary setting!

Next week is going to be really busy too. I have three fireplace installs in residential buildings and I am also in the process of designing a new hole-in-the-wall fireplace… I will keep you posted on this one, because I want to offer it in three differing sizes, so it’s a reasonable amount of work 😉

Such is life – the best things come to those who wait eh…

Anyway, I am off to have a shower – m’ missus and I are off for a meal tonight!

Take care and have a great weekend!

Buck 😉

Ring doves hatched near Dobbs Weir…

I made a post some time ago about some ring doves we found near Dobbs Weir in hertfordshire…

Well they’ve finally hatched!

A few of us have seen the dovlets 😉 walking along a local roof! I don’t think that they are ready to fly yet, as they haven’t made an attempt. (Well not to our knowledge anyway)

I saw the parents the other day too… I was driving my car to work and the parents flew right alongside my car – totally cool! They were almost gliding with a few flaps here-and-there, to keep them steady…

Birds are so lucky, don’t you agree? They can walk, fly and swim – I wish I could fly – that would be so cool! (I could then avoid the daily congestion lol)

I did wanna take some photos of the babies, but I didn’t wanna get too close – birds can be really protective, so I will leave it down to your imagination, that is unless I get a good opportunity, but heck – I don’t spend my days bird watching – 😉 I got fireplaces to design!

Anyway, I will do a third and final post on this, once they have flown the nest!

Ciao for now!

Buck 🙂

Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A deeper look at fires, thatched roofing and safety…

In a previous article title – Sparks, wood for fireplaces and tree types! – I looked briefly at fires in thatched roofing and some of the causes…

I will now discuss some of these subjects in a little more depth.

There are a number of differing causes for thatched roofing fires. From the types of wood being burnt in house stoves / fireplaces to the design of the fireplace.

Home heating has evolved in the past 100 years – increased insulation and fireplace efficiency are factors with which older chimneys cannot manage and thus thatched roofs for buildings of this kind can suffer fire through heat transfer!

With older flues, magnetic thermometers can be fitted at the main exit, to measure the temperature of the passing gases. This is most certainly not a full proof prevention, but it could help to prevent a fire…

Thatched roofing should be regularly maintained by a professional thatcher – the location of your property can affect the frequency of this as could the materials used in the thatching. (It is advisable to check with a professional thatcher for your specific requirements)

A completely new thatched roof can help to prevent a future fire. With new thatched roofs, it is common that fire resistant insulation boards are laid before the thatch is put in place. It is important to check the details, as to my knowledge, these boards only offer a small amount of fire protection.

It is strongly advised that smoke detectors are fitted in the highest point of the roof – the alarm system should be wired such that notification alarms can be placed in viable places, such as; bedrooms and other living spaces, kitchen and bathrooms – your alarm system should also be mains-wired, with an uninterruptible power supply, for backup!

Electrcal systems and thatched roofing

Your house electrical system should be maintained regularly by an NICEIC approved electrical engineer and only essential conduit fitted electric cable should run through the roof space – bare cable should NEVER be attached to the rafters holding the thatch in place!

Television aerials should have a long enough pole that separates it from the roof – electrical fires caused by storms and lightning strikes are very rare, but not unheard of – therefore a lightning conductor should also be fitted. (Check the full details with your supplier)

General safety for you thatched roof

It is common place these days, that people have barbecues… I do!

What better, than on a sunny day, relaxing in the garden with a cold one and juicy burger!

But…

Barbecues (and bonfires for that matter) can be extremely dangerous when situated too close to a building with a thatched roof! It is important to remember that having a barbecue also coincides perfectly with the conditions required for a roof fire… Build wise – always situate your barbecue in a safe place with ample distance from your house. If embers do rise, then there should be no risk of fire!

As a last note; if you’re a smoker, then always extinguish smoking materials before you go to bed. Candles are great, but always use caution.. It wouldn’t be so great if a 49p candle cost you your house!

I hope this article has been useful?

Take care, 😉 Buck!

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stone for fireplaces – Part 2

In my previous article on stone for fireplaces I introduced the Travertine stone. In this article, I will be disgussing Portuguese Limestone, passing particular reference to Moca Creme and Semi Rigio – there are several others, but these seem to be the most popular!

Portuguese limestone is a beautifully smooth, almost white stone and as its name hints, 😉 is from Portugal.

Quality grades of Portuguese limestone have only slight veining within – blemishes found in other grades, should not be sold on the market!

Take a look at the image below!

As can be seen from the image above; the veining is minimal and thus produces a smooth creamy effect – a stone found with large blemishes, demonstrates a different kind of effect (rather like porridge with melted sugar within) not a blend that is commonly recognised as aesthetically pleasing!

Incidentally; I went to a stone show recently and a competitor had some of their products on show – I Have always wondered why they have been able to under-cut our prices? (we always use the highest quality stone)

And then… 😉

It jumped out at me! Literally!

I suddenly noticed porridge-like blemishes within the sides of one of their show-pieces – there were no blemishes on the front of the fireplace, but down the sides they were hideous!!

What did they expect (I wondered)?

Maybe they expect their customers to have a permanent plant, or similar object placed conveniently next to the blemishes to cover them up!!

I could not believe my eyes – I now know how some of these online competitors can charge such low prices – be warned!

A quality fireplace!

A quality Portuguese Limestone Fireplace, should look like the one pictured here!

Of course, if cheap stone is what you are looking for then blemishes can be hidden, but it is not an ideal choice and could ruin the effect of your room!

I chose to put the this particular fireplace in as an example, as we fitted one last week. The durrington, of contemporary design and a great centre-piece to any room… The client was more than satisfied with the finished product and his room effect was wonderful!

I have to mention here; had he been given a fireplace that had the ‘porridge’ effect, then hey… It would probably have been a complete design disaster!

Some questions to ask sellers:

  1. Do you cut out all blemishes?
  2. Do you craft fireplaces from the same pieces of stone?
  3. Have you got a showroom where I can see your fireplaces on display?
  4. Have you got any testimonials from previous customers that I can read?

I hope this post is useful?

Hasta 😉 luego…

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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A different type of fireplace customer!

I started work as usual today…

Walked in, checked the post and email and then got on with my list..

I made my usual ‘white, two sugars’ coffee and sat down to do a price for a fireplace and installation.

Anyway…

While I was sitting there I heard the main door open, but no customers were present, which I found a bit strange, but hey, I assumed that the door had been ajar and maybe the wind had caught it?

Mmm yer right!

The door (almost immediately afterwards), opened a second time… As I got up to shut it, I noticed two black and white kittens taking their own tour of our showroom 🙂

There seems to be a different animal here every week.. First ring doves and now cats! lol

It was a bit of a surprise I must say, but I suppose it was a pleasant surprise…

Unfortunately, I don’t actually have a picture of them but I found the following picture on google image search and they looked just like these two!

picture of two kittens from google

I love animals and I know I have said it before (on the ring doves post), but we truely are so lucky with our location!

I remember the days of commuting through London on a daily basis – it’s like a second job! 😉 – I still do have to travel to London for work engagements, but fortunately it’s not all of the time…

Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed learning about my cat experiences! 🙂 They are now back with their owner.. She said that they had escaped from the garden and couldn’t thank me enough for “saving the day” as she put it!

Until the next time…

Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Space saving fireplaces for your home

I went to see my cousin at the weekend, she recently moved into a small one bedroom house in the south country 🙂

Anyway…

While I was there, she posed the question; can I get a fireplace that will fit in my room?

Simple answer!

A fireplace can be a centre piece to any room, but a BIG fireplace in a small room can ruin the effect the room has to offer!

Still, there are some fireplace styles that can offer a complimentary effect to a small room, for example; hole-in-the-wall and hang-on-the-wall fireplaces can be an ideal choice for a fireplace, where space-saving is required…

Brands such as; Magiglo and Newman Fireplaces are good choices!

Custom fireplace designers can tailor sizes to match your requirements… Fireplaces such as a hole-in-the-wall can be made quite small indeed, allowing the fireplace, yet again to be a centre-piece to any room!

So… As long as you take size and measurements into consideration, then there are fires and fireplaces suitable for most living spaces!

Tips for buying small fireplaces

  1. Buy from a reputable supplier
  2. Always clearly specify sizes and measurements for your room
  3. Buy a fireplace suitable for you fuel source

Ciao for now 😉

Published in: on June 30, 2008 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On top of Old Smokey, all covered in soot!

‘A chimney is a system for venting hot flue gases or smoke from a boiler, stove, furnace or fireplace to the outside atmosphere. They are typically almost vertical to ensure that the hot gases flow smoothly, drawing air into the combustion through the chimney effect (also known as the stack effect). The space inside a chimney is called a flue. Chimneys may be found in buildings, steam locomotives and ships’.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimney

Today I will be discussing those chimneys found in houses…

There are a few different types of chimney that can be seen on houses:

  • Traditional brick-built chimneys
  • Prefabricated chimneys
  • Precast flues
  • Balanced flues
  • Fanned flues

Traditional brick-built chimneys are great for fires and stoves. They are generally deep, thus giving you the choice-in-size of fire / stove you require!

Prefabricated chimneys / flues are suitable for most stoves or gas fires – they are also generally deep, so the choice-in-size for your fire, is usually varied!

Precast flues are commonly found in modern homes – in the 1970’s builders started to install this type of flue in houses, as a space-saving method… Built into the structure of the house, they are constructed from pre-cast concrete blocks and are generally suited to smaller, more slim-line fires and stoves!

(As a note; I will not be going into any depth regarding balanced and fanned flues in this article – I have another article I am writing that I will publish soon, which covers these topics in much greater depth…)

Some helpful tips for chimneys:

  1. A well-built, well-maintained chimney can last for years!
  2. A chimney should be checked regularly by a builder for any repointing, or repairs that need doing!
  3. If coal is being burned in your fire / stove, then the chimney should be swept twice, yearly – for wood, double this figure… Soot and tar must be cleaned regularly, as if left to build up, this could easily result in a chimney fire!
  4. If solid fuels are being burning, then fitting a spark arrestor on the top of your chimney is a good idea, as rising sparks can also cause fires!

So, is a real fireplace and chimney worth all the effort?

I think its really just a matter of opinion or choice. What I mean is, its really all about what you are looking for… What kind of room-effect you are trying to achieve!

In most houses (it was the case in my parents house and in my house too), the chimney comes as an inherent feature… 😉 The upside… It doesn’t need cleaning if you don’t burn solid fuels!

Heck! It could simply be blocked off if you don’t want a fire!

But…

If you do have the will… A real fireplace can be a commodity worth fighting for… 🙂

Over and out!

Buck 😉

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How does Phurnacite differ from Anthracite?

‘ello Campers… 😉

Sorry it’s been a week or so since my last post – heck, things got hec-tic! 😉

Not a bad thing though – it’s better to be busy, than not busy ‘ey?

Right! On wit’ m’ story – Jacka’…

I was asked recently what the main differences were between phurnacite and anthracite – an inquisitive schoolboy, who had accompanied his father to look for a new fireplace…

Anyway, thought I’d post it up here as it did open up an interesting point!!

 Anthracite and Phurnacite image

So! What are the differences?

In a nut shell; Not much! 😉

 

Anthracite is natural!

It is one of the most purest forms of coal (i.e. between 92% and 98% carbon) and is extremely compact, whereas Phurnacite, is a tradename for Anthracite dust, compressed into a briquette…

Some useful points about Phurnacite:

  • Phurnacite is slow-burning
  • Phurnacite can be left to slumber for long periods, at low temperatures
  • Phurnacite is relatively low in cost
  • Phurnacite is ideal for solid fuel central heating systems!

Hope this is helpful? I know it’s been short, but sometimes… Short is sweet 😉

Take care,

Buck!

Stone for fireplaces – Part 1

Another week has passed and yet.. I look younger! 😉

 

There are many stones available for fireplaces..

 

Limestone, slate, marble, granite – with so many to choose from, which stone is the right one?

 

In this article, I will be focussing my attention to Travertine, simply because I have been dealing with this particular stone alot lately and have had quite a number of questions asked by my clients 😉

 

Travertine has an interesting story attached, as it is formed in a slightly unusual way.

 

Travertine is formed when carbon dioxide-rich water passes through rocks in limestone-rich areas. The water dissolves the limestone and becomes saturated with it.

When the environment the water runs through, changes – a drop in pressure and/or a change in the temperature, the water releases carbon dioxide gas, rather like when one releases a cap on a fizzy-drinks bottle.

The calcium carbonate then re-crystallises in the form of small debris, scrub and living biotic material such as; moss and algae. – (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travertine)

 

As the living material decomposes, air holes are then formed within the rock – See Fig.1 below:

 

Travertine with holes

 

One can purchase this stone in its original form!

 

In fact, I did visit a client at their house recently, where travertine stone had been laid on their patio..

 

In most cases, Travertine is filled and honed – see fig.2 below – although generally, this is only the case with one side of the stone (the top-side). The base is commonly left in it’s natural form!

 

Travertine filled with arrows showing resin

 

The arrows in figure 2, show the areas of stone which have been filled by the resin – In my opinion, the resin does add aesthetic value to the stone, by contrasting the stones natural markings..

 

Travertine filled and honed

 

Figure 3 demonstrates clearly, the qualities that travertine can have in its finished form!

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 2, 2008 at 3:53 pm  Comments (3)  
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Sparks, wood for fireplaces and tree types!

New Forest Timber

Trees, trees, glorious trees!

 

But..

 

Which tree is best for burning eh? Beech, Oak, Ash..  Pine, Yew, Fir..

 

Mmm..

 

Hard wood is probably the best!

Soft wood such as; Pine or Fir tends to burn quickly and if still wet, can cause sparks – this being particularly dangerous, for those houses with thatched roofs!

In reality, timber should be seasoned too, if it is to be used for burning in a wood stove / fireplace, although, seasoning the wood can be a resonably time-consuming process, as the wood needs to be properly dried before burning..

 

The drying game 😉

 

The most common method for acheiving this, is for example; given the timber was felled and cut-to-size in the previous winter or the present spring, then the wood, would need to be sun-dried ’til the autumn!

It is usual that the wood is taken into one’s house, a few weeks prior to burning, thus taking the drying process to the final level and therefore making it dry enough and safe enough, for your stove!

Bringing the wood into the house a few weeks before burning, means that the excess moisture, evaporates due to the wood being in a warm house – this process will help limit the sparks given off when burning it!

 

Flames,Fred Flame from By The Firesideflames Fred Flame from By The Firesideand.. More Flames! Fred Flame from By The FiresideFred Flame from By The FiresideFred Flame from By The Fireside

 

It is actually quite interesting how different types of wood, this being either soft wood or hard wood, can affect the look of a flame! For example; Soft wood such as, Pine or Fir, can produce a high wavey flame, whereas hard woods such as, Oak or Ash, more commonly display a lower-type flame!

 

So..

 

What wood / timber is best for burning, in stoves / fireplaces?

 

Well.. That ole chestnut 😉

 

A matter of choice really.. As with most things in life!

I prefer hard wood, as it tends to burn for longer – I don’t mind the low flames and my use is for heating my home!

 

High flames typically found when burning soft woods such as; Pine, could be required for some applications, although it doesn’t generally burn for as long as hardwood, so for my specific use, well..

 

There is only one choice!

 

Until the next time.. 😉

Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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