October 15, 2013

When this old world…

You know what comes next… and where do you go? Up on the roof, of course. Well, the world’s not getting me down – far from it – but that’s where I went early this afternoon. I put it off all morning because the weather forecast was for ‘inescapable’ rain, but I waited and waited and nothing happened. So then I got my ladders out and, yup, you’ve guessed, it began to spit. I gave it a few minutes and the sun continued to weakly show its face through the thin high cloud. So I thought, ‘to heck with it’ and decided to put my climbing boots on, as I needed to take the measurements of the top of my chimney stack so I can make some sort of weather-proof cap for it. I also wanted to look down it with a torch so I could see what sort of tubage had been inserted by the previous resident, who as I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, had a free-standing ‘poele a bois’ on the floor next to the fireplace with its flue connected into the chimney from the side through a tube inserted into the stonework.

I managed to do both of those things and while I was at it, give the blockwork and rendering a closer inspection. The condition of both is not critical, but not that good. I think that I’ll be able to get away with just hacking bits of rendering off where it’s cracked, re-pointing the joints between the blocks and patching the rendering to make it good again. I’m pretty certain that that will be enough as although the blockwork is ‘live’ ie not solid, it’s not about to fall down. The only problem is, will I be able to do it (a) before I install my wood-burner and (b) before the winter? After mulling it over for a day or so, I think that I will end up having to make a temporary cap for the chimney, install the wood-burner and then return to the chimney stack problems in the spring when the weather improves again. That way I know that I’ll at least have the heat in the house that I’ll need during the winter.

This conclusion is further reinforced after looking down the chimney with my torch. After looking at ‘how to’ videos on the internet, my original intention was to insert a tube from the wood-burner flue in my fireplace right up to the top of the chimney, which would have meant fitting a securing bracket at the top and, most likely, a permanent cap. However, Wim said that this wasn’t necessary – all that I needed to do was place a couple of lengths of tubing on the top of the wood-burner to get the smoke well up into the chimney of the house and updraughts would do the rest.

After looking to see how it was done previously, I now think he’s right. The light of my torch showed that all the previous resident of my house did was shove a short length of tubing into the side of the chimney without having any up-turn at all, so at the end of the day the chimney was just being used in its original function. So that gives me the option of placing a (heavy) temporary cap on the top of the chimney, running a few lengths of tubing up the chimney from the bottom and installing my wood-burner with its flue connected to them. And that’s what I’ve now decided to do. The top of my chimney measures 60 x 40 cm so I need to make some kind of cap (probably out of light concrete with a bit of reinforcing added) just a bit bigger than that, with a block on each corner to raise it off the chimney itself so the smoke can escape. Now I just need to get cracking on it.

While I was aloft, this time I took a few pictures, and here they are. The first one is looking west over my neighbour’s house behind mine, in the direction of Rouffignac.

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The next one, below, is looking in a southerly direction towards Plazac, which can’t be seen as it’s in the valley some way beyond the hill, and Fleurac, where Wim has his airfield.

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And finally, this shot is taken looking north towards my neighbour Jean-Claude’s house

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And here’s something with which to finish off. I thought I’d check out the lyrics of ‘Up On The Roof’, which is a Goffin/King song that I’ve always liked but haven’t listened to for some time. I found the following link, which has a video in it of a performance by James Taylor at what I think was a concert attended by relatives of firemen and policemen who were victims of the events of 9/11. I found it very touching and I hope that readers enjoy it too.

Fire and Rain & Up On The Roof