Having a Dirty Old Day ! (part one)


Wednesday 14 January, 2015 by Uncle Spike

Having introduced you to our dear friend,”Terrance the Termodinamik“, our lovely big coal furnace, I also mentioned my monthly ‘dirty day’ 🙂 Rest assured this post is not about to degrade into some dodgy blog post about my boxers again, but just a step-by-step look-through the regular cleaning and maintenance such a furnace requires. Yes, it’s a strange post to share I’ll grant you, but people often seem interested in the realities of rural life, so here goes… 

Step one

The top chamber houses the heat exchanger. Heat from the burn chamber below shoots up from the back, and runs horizontally along until it finds passage through the 15 tubes around which around 140 litres (37 US gals) of water is heated up.



İnside each tube is a wavy piece of steel that is slid in horizontally in order to slow down the travelling heat, and thereby more efficiently heat the surrounding cast iron and the water contained therein. However, these blades also collect a fair amount of soot.



Each blade has to be cleaned off on both sides. 



Step two

Then the tubes need to be cleaned, using a steel brush rod which tightly fits the tube. It’s hard to do at first, but the brush rod is pushed through the pipe until in becomes free at the back of the top chamber. Then, then brush is pulled back through to the front once more, slowly, so as to not spray clouds of soot dust in your face. This double process is repeated three times, for all 15 tubes, making a total of 90 actions, which is plenty enough to warm you up!





Step three

Then the front of the heat exchanger, and the sides are scrapped free of soot and any rust, and then the underneath is scraped with a long scraper rod.



The resulting soot pile is then ‘pushed’ back through until it drops to the burn chamber below. This is a much cleaner method that trying to extract it from this top chamber I have found.



Step four

The fifteen blades, once all scraped clean, are then replaced back into the tubes, and the inner door slid into place before shutting and securing the top chambers’ outer door.





But that’s only about half of the job done…


19 thoughts on “Having a Dirty Old Day ! (part one)

  1. galeweithers says:

    Good grief! Thanks for making me doubly happy to be living in a Caribbean island where keeping warm is not normally an issue (but if it was, this would definitely be a ‘male’ job) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jude says:

    I think it’s a job for a husband!


    • Uncle Spike says:

      Neither would occur from this system, thankfully. The soot is not combustible, just fine dust, although the deposits in the chimney itself are an issue – but that’s just a two-yearly job as I installed a big fat round chimney for that very purpose. The boiler is in a room attached to the outside of the house, so worst case, it just wouldn’t heat efficiently. As half the days are sunny, even if cold outside, warm (ish) water enough for a shower can be gained from the solar panel heated water tank upstairs, plus warmth from the wood-burner downstairs – when the family are away, I just camp downstairs on my own 🙂 (like this weekend)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. orples says:

    Interesting and informative. Of course, I am not surprised since you are such a do it ‘yourselfer’ … We all should be, in reality, but I suspect most of us would be lost if not for the phone book. 🙂


  4. AnnetteM says:

    Makes cleaning our fire grate a doddle. Must get on with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yvonne says:

    Maybe life in the tropics isn’t so bad after all!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. joannesisco says:

    ugh – what a nasty job to do every month!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That brush looks just about ready for replacement Spike!


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