|newly installed fire canopy in action in castle kitchen|
The recent key insight to get the smoke to draw up the chimney instead of into the room was realising that the large rectangular void was essentially an inglenook fireplace, and I googled for "problems draw inglenook". Apparently, most inglenook fireplaces will not draw naturally and they need a "fire canopy" to focus the flow of air, so that the velocity becomes large enough to take the smoke with it.
Thanks to eBay I recently picked up a MASSIVE second-hand fire canopy for £65 in Worcester. Sourcing items for Balintore has taken me the length and breadth of the country. I schedule these pick-ups to be en route when I am making other journeys - so the logistics are finely honed.
The canopy made such an enormous difference that Andy actually shook my hand! Investing in one and transporting it 400 miles had been somewhat of an act of faith on my behalf so I was delighted. There is still a small amount of smoke in the room, but hopefully by sealing the canopy in position instead of propping it up with a bit of wood, and perhaps installing a "granny" on the chimney pot, the level of smoke will become acceptable.
You will see the canopy is 8 inches off centre. This is because the inside of the chimney turned out to be not quite symmetrical. Andy said he has the tools to do some surgery on the top of the canopy to centralise the set-up.
Now that there is a source of heat in the kitchen, it is time to keep the heat in. And in the last few weeks, there have been great strides in insulating and then lining the kitchen in plasterboard. On the left is the before picture with insulation in progress. On the right is the after picture with the left-hand wall, the far wall and the ceiling insulated and lined. The kitchen is such a big room that the cost of the materials alone is frightening. The right-hand wall is fully internal and therefore the lathe-and-plaster survived the worst effects of water ingress and could be left alone. Fortunately, it is more important to insulate external walls.
To keep the historic lines intact there was a limit on the depth of insulation that could be used. This is typically around 50mm as the lathe-and-plaster is 2 inches thick. Sometimes we managed a little more, sometimes the lines dictated a little less. So I'm pleased that we have installed as much insulation as possible, and that the historic interior has been kept "as is". Restoration is very much a finely tuned compromise. On the other hand, this is not a source of great worry or deep thinking as the building shows you the way. The pictures are courtesy of my friend Andrew.