How long is it since you last cleaned your chimneys?
As winter draws in, there’s nothing like a roaring fire in the grate to make you warm and cosy in your home. It comes with a price, though, and that includes have the chimney swept on a regular basis. A blocked or dirty chimney can cause serious damage — perhaps even a fire that destroys your home.
This is because any soot left in the flue can ignite when it heats up, not to mention other debris, such as birds’ nests or spider webs, that might have found its way into the chimney. At best, that could damage your flue, and at worst it could burn your house down — and, if you try to make an insurance claim when you’ve neglected your chimney, the loss adjuster could turn you down.
A blocked flue can also release deadly carbon monoxide into your home, from the gases coming back down the chimney.
How Often Should a Chimney Be Swept?
The fuel used in the fireplace dictates how often your chimney needs to be swept. A coal-fire chimney should be swept at least twice a year and a wood-fire chimney quarterly when the fireplace is in use. If you’re using smokeless, gas or oil fuels, you’re usually safe keeping it to once a year — but remember that all gas-related work should be done by a Gas Safe engineer. Always be safe with your gas appliances.
A few basic safeguards will help you enjoy your fire securely and make certain that, if you do suffer a fire, the loss adjuster will have no reason to refuse your claim:
- Have your chimney swept before you start using the fireplace.
- Keep the grate clean, making sure it’s free from ash and soot.
- Avoid using damp wood, as cooler smoke creates more ash.
- Using a fireguard in front of an open fire can prevent sparks flying out from the embers.
- Don’t leave a fire burning unattended — extinguish it before you leave the house or go to bed.
- If you’re using wood, don’t leave your supply too close to the fire, as it could ignite.
- And — invest in a carbon monoxide alarm. Your life and your family’s lives might depend on it.
Chimney sweeps used to be considered very lucky. Maybe that’s because people back then realised that their job could save lives.