Here are some of the most frequently asked questions. If I have not covered anything you require an answer to then don’t hesitate to give me a call!
How often do I need my chimney swept?
This depends on how often you use your fire and what you burn. A general guideline is: For occasional evening and weekend use, once a year is enough. For more frequent use, especially if you burn a lot of wood, you should have your chimney swept once before you start having fires, usually in the autumn and then once again half way through the burning season, about January.
Do all chimneys need to be swept?
Yes think of your chimney as the “safety hatch” for your fireplace or log/coal burner. It provides a “safe way” for poisonous gases and fumes to escape. It is essential to keep it clean and maintained. Whether you have an open chimney or a stainless steel flue, they both need to be swept at least once a year.
What will happen if my chimney is not swept?
Many things can happen the most common being a build-up of soot, tar and a substance called creosote. These build ups will then reduce the diameter of your chimney, reducing the effectiveness of your fireplace/stove, and more importantly allowing poisonous gases (Carbon Monoxide) to escape into the room. There is also a big risk of a chimney fire.
Why does my chimney smoke?
There are different reasons why your chimney may smoke. Below is a list of the major causes. It may be that only one, or a combination of any of them could cause the smoke to blow back into your room.
Solution – Having the chimney swept will either correct the problem or highlight where and what the blockage could be. The chimney sweep can then advise on what work will then be necessary.
Cold air up the chimney
Solution – If a fire hasn’t been lit for a while, the air up the chimney can get cold. Cold air is heavy and if the flue isn’t heated quickly enough, the cold air will force the smoke back into the room. Initially, just burn newspaper as this will create a lot of heat quickly and will move the air upwards.
Solution – Downdraught is a brief flow of air down the chimney resulting in puffs of smoke being pushed back into the room. One reason for downdraught is that the chimney stack has been built too short and another could be trees, buildings or other large high objects interfering with the wind flow. To help with this problem, a cowl can be fitted on to the pot. It is advisable to ask your chimney sweep which type of cowl to use as there are many different designs suited for different problems. If the incorrect cowl is fitted, it may make the problem worse.
Solution – All fires need air to make them burn properly. A lot of properties are very well insulated with double glazing etc. thus not allowing a flow of replacement air into the room. This can be solved by fitting air vents or simply leaving the door to the room open.
The wrong type of cowl fitted on top of the pot
Solution – Many people are ill-advised as to the correct type of cowl to fit. Fitting the wrong type can either cause the problem or make it worse. Consult your chimney sweep as to whether you have the right cowl fitted.
The wrong sized fireplace
Solution – In the UK, the average sized fireplace opening is about 18″ wide and 24″ high. If it excedes this by a large amount, some of the smoke may curl out into the room. Try either lifting the grate up or lowering the height.
Am I required to have my chimney swept for my home insurance?
Yes, most insurance companies require you to have you chimney swept yearly.
Do chimney sweeps hand out certificates?
Yes, all qualified chimney sweeps hand out certificates after each sweep for your household insurance.
Will my chimney be tested?
Yes, a draw test will be carried out before a certificate is issued. This is to make sure the chimney is clear with no blockages, and to make sure no smoke is coming back down the chimney.
Will you be clean and careful?
Will my home be filled with soot?
No. Although having your chimney swept can be a dirty job, great care is taken to make sure there is no mess or damage. I use dust sheets for the floor and seal the fireplace/log burner, to make sure no dust escapes into the room. I also use a industrial vacuum to clean up your fireplace or log burner so that it is spotless.