Fireplaces are busy at this time of year — particularly with Santa’s imminent arrival down the chimney!
But, how often do you check your chimney is in good order? Apart from Santa there are other things that could affect your chimney, these being, blockages, smoke leaks, inadequate ventilation, insufficient draw, down-draught and tar build-up.
Did you know that if you have a gas-flame effect fire or an occasional solid-fuel fire, you should have your chimney swept once a year and if it’s in daily use, you should have it swept twice a year.
It’s easier to understand why it’s so important if you think of the chimney as essentially a household exhaust pipe — funnelling away soot, smoke, gases, hot ashes and sparks.
Some questions worth asking yourself are: When did you last have the flue swept? Has it been tested for smoke integrity to ensure that no cracks or faults have developed?
If you haven’t had the chimney swept in the last 12 months it is time to get it swept and tested by an NACS (National Association of Chimney Sweeps) registered sweep. http://nacs.org.uk/
A modern, sealed sweep ensures that your flue is safe and unclogged by bird nests, soot build-ups and any other debris that might have dropped down from the chimney pot. Just as a roof tile may dislodge, so a chimney lining can deteriorate, exposing mortar joints and brickwork to corrosion and, ultimately, collapse. The older the house, the greater the risk.
A common misperception is that only chimneys servicing solid-fuel fires require sweeping, but even with a gas-flame effect fire, if a new appliance is being installed in a chimney previously used for solid fuel, it should be swept beforehand. Gas Safe Register (GFE) recommends that any gas appliance is safety checked at least once a year.
A sweep costs between £45 to £90, depending on where you live. Prices increase according to the number of floors in the building. A smoke integrity test will double the cost. If your chimney fails this test, a chimney lining specialist will need to install a new flue lining (by a Gas Safe approved installer or, for solid fuel, by a HETAS qualified expert).
Be safe this winter and make sure Santa doesn’t get stuck in the chimney!