Your chimney has a special use at this time of year, but it’s not just for fat men in red to come down. If you’re going to enjoy the warmth and atmosphere of an open fire on cold winter evenings, the chimney is a vital part of that, and it has to be clean to function properly.
Over the summer, your flue can get blocked by birds’ nests and spider webs, while the build-up of soot from the fire may also create a blockage — and this can be dangerous. It can release deadly carbon monoxide, or cause a fire that might damage your chimney or even burn down your home.
And that’s not the end of your problems. If you have to make an insurance claim after a fire, a neglected chimney can be exactly the kind of reason for the insurer’s loss adjuster to reject your claim. Not only will you have a badly damaged home, but you’ll also have to foot the bill for the repairs and rebuilding.
Have Your Chimneys Been Cleaned?
Your chimneys, flues and extraction fans need to be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent them becoming a danger. You should have the chimney swept at least four times a year if you use wood or twice a year for coal, while with smokeless, oil or gas you’re usually safe with once a year. If you use gas, though, any work you have done must always be carried out, or at least certified, by a Gas Safe engineer.
This should keep your chimney safe — and, if an unavoidable accident were to happen, your insurance claim shouldn’t be rejected by the loss adjuster. These are the precautions Allied Claims would suggest you take:
- Have your chimney swept before you start using the fireplace for the winter.
- 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.
- If your cooker has an extraction fan, there can be a build-up of fat in it, this should also be cleaned regularly.
- And — invest in a carbon monoxide alarm. Your life and your family’s lives might depend on it.
As long as you follow this advice, you should be able to enjoy your open fire safely this winter — and Santa won’t get covered in soot on Christmas Eve.