Frequently Asked Chimney Questions
How often do I need my chimney swept?
All working chimneys should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year, as recommended by NACS, the Fire Service and insurance companies, whether using coal, oil, gas or wood. Chimneys burning wood tend to need more regular cleaning - quarterly when in use is the recommended timescale.
Our service includes a free safety check and costs as little as £35.
How do I know if my chimney needs sweeping?
Specks of soot dropping into the fireplace.
Tar deposits visible in the chimney or stove.
A strong odour coming from the fireplace.
Draughting or smoking problems with the chimney.
If you have just moved home and want to use the chimney.
Animal nesting (squirrels and birds), which can cause fire hazards.
Why should I have my chimney swept?
To prevent chimney fires, build-up of soot and tar deposits, carbon monoxide emissions and to ensure the safe, efficient working of the chimney.
Tarry chimneys have a greater risk of fire. This is often preventable by keeping fuel dry and using only well-seasoned wood.
Note: The chimney sweeping trade is not regulated so virtually anyone - without education, training, experience or even a working knowledge of chimneys, proper tools or equipment can become a chimney sweep. As a result, many ill-equipped, ill-prepared individuals are free to offer their "services" to homeowners.
Always use a NACS/HETAS registered sweep.
What does sweeping involve?
Traditionally, and with good reason, chimneys are always swept with a brush, using a vacuum alone is NOT sufficient, anybody claiming otherwise is a rogue operator!
All soot is contained in the fireplace or appliance, which is sheeted and sealed to ensure complete cleanliness throughout the process. The soot or debris is then removed, leaving everything clean and tidy, a safety check carried out and a certificate of sweeping issued.
What does the safety check cover?
The basic condition of chimney and flue.
The absence of any blockage in flue.
The accessible areas of any appliance and connector.
That the correct terminal is fitted (if any).
Safety advice is, of course, always free.
Are more detailed inspections available?
If you require further investigation of any suspected problem, it is possible to use digital camera technology to video the internal areas of a flue and/or provide full inspections of external areas from top to bottom, with written reports if required and remedial recommendations.
When it rains, water leaks into my chimney. What can I do about this?
Rainwater damage is the number one cause of chimney deterioration This is a common and readily solvable problem. If it is a masonry chimney, then the typical reasons are:
- No rain cap
- The crown is cracked. The crown, or flaunching, is the masonry cover located at the top of the chimney. It surrounds the chimney pot and is designed to channel water off the top of the chimney.
- The roof flashing between the chimney and roof needs repair or replacing..
- The mortar joints in the masonry chimney are deteriorated and need repointing because they absorb water.
- If it is a metal, prefab chimney, the metal chimney chase cover may be rusted and can absorb water.
- Damp chimneys can also be caused by lack of ventilation. Even if not in use, correct venting, top and bottom, is necessary to prevent condensation which can often result in staining on internal walls, mould and odours.
I have birds nesting in my chimney. What should I do?
They are probably jackdaws or starlings. The good news is that if you wait a few weeks, the young will grow up and fly away. After they leave, the nesting material can be removed from the chimney and a birdguard fitted to ensure that they cannot return.
Note: It is our policy not to remove live nests.
Sometimes I get smoke in the room, what causes this?
There are many possible causes for this, it can be an air pressure zone around a chimney when the wind blows in a certain direction, or inadequate ventilation in the room, for example. Sometimes 'cold chimneys' situated on outside walls don't work very well until they warm up. An experienced technician can identify the problem and recommend a solution.
What do I do if I have a chimney fire?
If you realise a chimney fire is occurring, follow these steps:
- Get everyone out of the house, including yourself
- Call the fire brigade
If you can do so without risk to yourself, these additional steps may help save your home. Remember, however, that homes are replaceable, but lives are not:
- Put a chimney fire extinguisher into the fireplace or wood stove
- Close any doors on the appliance
- Close the air inlets on a wood stove
- Use a garden hose to spray down the roof (not the chimney) so the fire won't spread to the rest of the structure
- Monitor the exterior chimney temperature throughout the house for at least 8 hours after the fire is out.
Once it's over, call a NACS/HETAS member to inspect for damage. Chimney fire damage and repair is normally covered by homeowner insurance policies.