Chimney sweeping top tips before winter

September 11, 2019

As the summer warmth starts to fade, it’s time to make your chimneys safe, says David Johnson of Safer Chimneys, member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) and Hetas registered.
Perhaps the best part of winter is curling up in the cosy warmth of our open fires and wood-burning stoves but is it so essential to make them safe for us and our planet. David answers our questions on chimney sweeping and burning fuels:

Chimney Fire Hazard

Our expert David Johnson from Safer Chimneys recommend that you do not store logs next to the appliance. It is a fire hazard

How often should your chimney be swept?

That depends on several things: open fire or what kind of stove, whether your chimney is lined, what fuel you burn and how often you use it. For most of our customers, once or twice a year is sufficient, but for those relying on their stove for their heating, we tend to sweep every few months during their high use in winter. The NACS website provides some useful information on this as will your local Fire & Rescue. In Hampshire where David is based, you can find the information here or try your local Fire & Rescue Centre.
Your chimney sweep will be able to help you with specific recommendations for your use and appliance. Always have your chimney swept before you begin to use it after a break.

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Keep your home safe from fire. Only use our professionals

What should we burn?

What we burn and how we burn it is essential to give you an efficient fire that minimises damage to the environment. Dry seasoned wood burns well because it has less than 20% moisture content which is very important. To be sure, you can buy a moisture meter to test the water content of your logs.

Stove with seasoned logs

Use seasoned logs. Ensure they are not too big and they will burn more efficiently

Smokeless coal fuels are the best option if you’re burning coal. Always check to see if you are in a smokeless zone which has particular restrictions on what you can burn.
How we burn is vital to ensuring that our fires are as environmentally friendly as possible. If wood smoulders rather than burns, that’s when we create polluting smoke and dangerous tar in our chimneys.

Smaller logs, 125mm wide or less, burn at a higher temperature which is more efficient and better for the environment. You can find some excellent information on the science behind this here.

Stove burning too lower temperature

When a stove burns at a too lower temperature, the deposit is lumpy. The soot should be fine and far less. This type of burning pollutes the atmosphere and damages the flue liner.

Is chimney sweeping messy?

This is a question that new customers often ask, and the answer is an emphatic no! Professional sweeps will completely seal your appliance so that your room is protected from the falling soot. Responsible and correctly trained sweeps will leave your home at least as clean as they found it!

How do I know if a chimney sweep is good?

Checkatrade, of course! Independent reviews and referrals are always the best. Choose a sweep that is a member of one of the leading associations like NACS or The Guild of Master Sweeps. They will have been trained to a high standard, have the right equipment and the necessary insurance in place. They will also be able to issue certificates from their recognised association, giving comfort to you and your home insurers that the job has been completed correctly.

And David’s top tip?

Plan ahead! The closer Santa gets to coming down the chimney; the busier chimney sweeps get too!
More information on chimney sweeping by our experts.

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