As stated in my “about me” page I have been a Chimney Sweep in London and the surrounding areas for over 22 years, I am a fully qualified member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) and HETAS Chimney Sweep. My work encompasses everything from chimney repair to installation and of course sweeping chimneys. Over that period of time, the most frequently asked question I get regarding chimneys that are in use is “How often should they be swept per year?”
Well, for an open fire at least once a year, however for a fire used daily throughout the winter months, then it should be swept twice a year. This is regardless of which fuel type you use; wood, coal or smokeless fuel and especially so if you bank the fire overnight. HETAS also recommend you sweep your chimney at least once a year.
Lined and non lined Chimneys
If your chimney is lined, the chimney liner may be a 5 or 6 inches in diameter, then a one inch build up of creosote/tar on the lining wall will make a significant difference to the performance of your stove.
With a none lined brick chimney it’s obviously not a case of a restriction or narrowing down which poses a danger, here it is the build up of tar and creosote which could lead to a chimney fire. Understandably it is the last thing you want, if the fire itself doesn’t destroy your property then the water that the fire brigade use to put it out certainly will!
There are a few chemical chimney cleaners on the market, they won’t harm your flue at all but they don’t replace an annual physical sweep.
For a relatively small cost it’s really not worth risking a chimney fire or potential carbon monoxide/dioxide poisoning.
What to expect – Chimney Sweeping
A good qualified chimney sweep should always show you the brush coming out of the top of your chimney/s, after which each chimney should then be smoke tested.
This is to ascertain if there are any leaks (using a non toxic smoke pellet) in any room or in the stack and, if the chimney passes, they will then issue you with a HETAS Safety Certificate.
If the chimney fails you will need to get the chimney lined to meet HETAS regulations and retested before the chimney sweep can issue you with a safety certificate.
With an older property, such as a Georgian or Victorian property or even older, I would always check the chimneys for deterioration to any parts of the stack or cracks in the flaunching (which secures the chimney pots to the top of the stack) and advise on any repairs that may be needed.
Please feel free to contact me with any queries regarding your chimney, gas or stove installation all my contact details can be found on my ‘contact me‘ page.