Why does your chimney need to be swept?
Chimneys should be swept at least once a year when burning gas or smokeless fuels, and more frequently when burning wood or coal (refer to guidance on ‘Safety Page’).
It is important to sweep chimneys regularly so as to ensure the build-up of soot and/or creosote in the chimney or flue is removed and therefore reduce the risk of chimney fires, and to aid the safe emission of dangerous combustion and carbon monoxide gasses from the fireplace out into the atmosphere.
Any fossil fuel burnt produces Carbon Monoxide (Co). This can be fatal, therefore frequent chimney sweeping is essential and will eliminate any risk of the chimney being blocked, by birds, birds and squirrels nests, bees and wasps nests, cobwebs, fallen chimney debris and soot.
What are the implications of the new Building Regulations?
Since the Introduction of the Building Regulations ‘Document J’2002, any existing chimney being brought back into use, must conform to the current Building Regulations.
You should only enlist the services of COMPETENT tradesmen to carry out any works or inspections that may affect the safe working of any chimney, flue or appliance.
Why carry out a smoke test?
Even once a chimney has been swept, there is no way a chimney sweep can tell if the flue integrity is good. There may be a slight crack within the chimney wall or damage to the mid-feathers within the flue (the brickwork which separates chimney flues).
A crack within the chimney wall, or damaged mid-feathers, could result in harmful flue gasses finding their way into other parts of your property or roof space or even that of your neighbours. A smoke test will assist in identifying if there are any such problems.
Why does my fireplace smoke back when I use it?
There are many reasons that a fireplace may smoke back when in use:
It could be that the flue requires sweeping or that the flue is obstructed in some way, possibly by a nest, fallen debris or fallen leaves.
The fireplace size may not be compatible with the cross sectional area size and height of the chimney flue or the grate is too low or too far forward in relation to the fireplace recess.
The chimney stack may terminate in a high pressure zone causing down draught or there may be a wind derived down draught.
The chimney may be cold and damp causing lack of flue up draught or the ventilation provided may be insufficient.
Why do I need an air vent in the room?
All solid fuel appliances and most gas appliances need a flow of air into the room.
Some, particularly the open fires, need more than others, because, in addition to the air required to burn the fuel, a much larger quantity flows over the fire, through the appliance or fireplace opening, and up the flue.
A closed appliance may only require 15 – 25 cubic metres of air per hour, whereas an inset open fire with a large opening and ‘throat’ area induces the flow of an additional 260 cubic metres or more per hour.
If there is insufficient air available, the air speed through the fireplace opening is so reduced that it fails to carry all of the smoke and harmful gasses up the flue.
Is it true that sweeping a chimney is really messy?
As a professional sweep I can guarantee no mess and no fuss. Clean sheets will be placed on the floor in front of the fireplace, dust sheets will then be placed over the fireplace whilst your chimney is being brushed and vacuumed. This prevents any soot or debris entering the room. I will maintain respect for your home at all times and guarantee no mess is left.
If I have a stove does that mean I don’t have to sweep my chimney?
Stoves are usually more efficient than an open fire but they still produce soot and creosote buildup. So yes they do require sweeping.
How do I choose a good chimney sweep?
I am a fully trained and registered professional chimney sweep trained by the Guild of Master Sweeps, which can be proven by my Guild Membership ID badge and number. By hiring me I will deliver a reliable, efficient, professional and safe service. All work is fully guaranteed and on satisfactory completion I will provide a detailed insurance recognised certificate of chimney cleaning as well as provide practical advice.
Does a sweep have to go up on my roof to clean my chimney?
No, chimneys are swept from the fireplace and it is not necessary for me to go up onto your roof.
The Fire is not drawing properly?
This is usually the result of a cold or an obstructed flue or it can arise from insufficient height relative to the ridge of the roof or an adjacent building. Large unnecessary voids at the base of the chimney may also stop the fire drawing properly. Sometimes double glazing and very efficient draught excluders around doors, etc, may prevent an adequate flow of air for the fire to work correctly.
The fire creates excessive soot?
This usually means a lazy and inefficient flue although some bituminous coals are particularly prone to this. Such a flue may not be the right diameter for the fire or stove, or may not be satisfactorily insulated so that the fumes do not rise fast enough and therefore create soot deposits. Excessive soot and tar can be a considerable fire hazard, particularly if the chimney structure has deteriorated; or where, on 19th century property for example, floor joists have been built into the stack, when the whole house can be at risk.
Mortar falls into the fireplace?
Bits of brick or mortar falling down the flue indicate a serious deterioration in the chimney structure. Such deterioration normally occurs from the inside of the flue but if there is any indication of weakness on the outside of the chimney then attention is obviously necessary.
There are fumes in the room?
These may not be easily detected on closed appliances although if, with an open fire, the chimney smokes back into the room they are then obvious. Fumes contain carbon monoxide and are dangerous. Where there are leaks in the chimney the fumes can find their way into upstairs rooms and attics. Sometimes a tell-tale smoke stain around the edge of a carpet shows the presence of fumes.
The chimney breast feels hot?
This means that the chimney has deteriorated and may be dangerous. A hot wall in the room above may be a similar symptom. If stains also appear on the chimney breast this is a sign that tar or acids have condensed and are eating into the chimney mortar and brickwork.
The fire or stove is using too much fuel?
Large uninsulated flues require a lot of heat and fuel to make them draw. In particular high efficiency modern appliances have only a relatively small outlet pipe for the fumes. If these discharge into a much larger uninsulated flue, their rise can be decelerated to the point when the appliance just will not draw. An insulated flue of the correct size is required to ensure that an adequate draught is created for them to burn as their designers intended. Otherwise they will use too much fuel and the slow moving fumes will also condense into acids which will attack the internal surface of the chimney.