My name is Will Jones. I’ve been making dampers for around 25 years – first when I worked at Culworth Forge near Banbury. As well as blacksmiths we were the acknowledged local experts in fireplace and chimney design and troubleshooting, to the extent that when building regulations for solid fuel appliances had a big shake up in 2002, we were asked to instruct our local authority’s building officers in how to interpret and implement the new regulations. We chose not to join Hetas, but I and all staff involved in fireplace work sat and passed the Hetas engineer’s examination at the time.
Whether fitting a woodburning stove, lining a chimney, fitting an inglenook canopy, building a new fireplace/flue, or indeed designing and fitting a damper, there’s a lot more than meets the eye to the science of burning wood and solid fuels safely and efficiently. Over the last few decades I’ve seen hundreds of disastrously designed or altered fireplaces/chimneys, and advised on improvements when possible. Sadly the mistakes made are frequently not the work of cowboys or ill informed d.i.y.ers, but qualified architects and time served builders!
I mention this partly to establish a little credibility for myself, but also as a word of warning, that when you ask around about fireplace/chimney issues, you will get as many answers as you ask people, and a lot of those answers will be based on very little knowledge of how domestic fires actually work!
After a decade or so at Culworth, and another 13 years or so running my own business based nr. Milton Keynes, Bucks. I have now designed, made and fitted hundreds of dampers. I can proudly say that the only two dampers I’ve made that have received any negative feedback in all this time were made to someone else’s design against my better judgement!
I am a “one man band” and divide my time as best I can between producing hand made ornamental ironwork (trading as Ironwill), and chimney dampers. I have sent chimney dampers out across the U.K.and beyond for d.i.y. fitting, and fitted them extensively in my own corner of the country, as well as further afield – sometimes fitting between ten and twenty dampers in one property as part of major refurbishment of stately homes.
The economics of this work are tricky –and the skills and knowledge required are rare - I have no nationwide team of fitters or surveyors, so a day spent travelling to and from a site to survey a job equates to a day’s lost production for me along with travelling expenses. Sometimes I travel several hours to a site to discover a disastrous fireplace/flue situation that needs a complete re-think, or a lot of work before a damper can be considered, so my time is wasted, but the client still benefits from my assessment and advice. I do therefore need to charge for surveys, unless they’re very close to home. (see FAQs)