If you regularly clean and inspect your chimney, you can prevent a fire occurring. If you think your chimney might be on fire, evacuate the building and call 999.
Advice on sweeping your chimney
The cost of a chimney sweep is small compared to the potential costs of a chimney fire.
Why sweep your chimney?
- It reduces the build-up of soot, which may ignite.
- It clears any potential obstructions caused by nests, leaves and debris.
- It reduces risk of fire.
- It reduces risk of carbon monoxide build-up/poisoning.
Household insurance policies often state policyholders should take reasonable care to maintain appliances and their flues. In some cases, insurers will specify the frequency with which a chimney should be swept.
If you live in a rented property, landlords have a duty of care to repair and keep in working order any room heater and water heating equipment for you as their tenant.
How often should you clean your chimney?
It is recommended you follow the chimney sweeping frequencies outlined below:
|Type of appliance
||Chimney sweeping frequency
|Solid fuel appliances
||Once annually for smokeless fuel, twice for coal
|Wood burning appliances
||Every three months when in use
||Annually, if designed for sweeping
|Oil fired appliances
Common warning signs of a possible chimney fire are:
- a loud roaring noise – massive amounts of air being sucked through the burner or fireplace opening
- sparks and flames shooting from the chimney top (similar to fireworks in appearance)
- glowing or shimmery outlets or connectors
- vibrating appliances, outlets or connectors
- flames visible through any cracks in the outlet or connector
- smoke or smells noticeable in adjoining rooms or loft space
- chimney breast or flue pipe heating up in either the same room, or others they pass through
Please note that this information should be treated as a guide only, as it is possible to experience a chimney fire without the aforementioned characteristics.
After a chimney fire
If you have a chimney fire, you should always dial 999. Afterwards, you may not be able to use the chimney again until a certified sweep has completed a thorough inspection to check for damage or if any repairs are required.
Re-opening an old fireplace
If you are planning to re-open an old fireplace, seek professional advice from a certified chimney sweep.
How to prevent a chimney fire
Here are a few simple tips to follow to help prevent chimney fires:
- Sweep before use if it has not been used for a while.
- Ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times.
- Spark guards can prevent serious property fires.
- Extinguish the flame before bed or leaving the house.
- Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.
It is also good practice to regularly inspect the chimney breast in all rooms that it passes through (including roof space). Ensure sparks or fumes are not escaping through cracks, broken mortar or bricks.
You can also help save your life, and those of your family and friends, if you make sure you have:
- a working smoke alarm on each floor
- a carbon monoxide alarm in any rooms featuring a working fireplace
- an escape plan in the event of a fire
Here are some extra safety tips if you burn wood:
Chimney Fire Safety Week takes place annually and last took place on Monday 4th to Sunday 10th September 2017.
- Ensure all wood burnt has a moisture content below 17 per cent, by buying seasoned wood from reputable suppliers.
- Choose the correct size appliance: one too large will never burn all of the fuel contained in the wood. Any unburned fuel will pass up the chimney as smoke and condense as extremely flammable creosote.
- If you have a wood burner, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on fuel loading and air flow.
- If you plan to reopen an old fireplace, seek professional advice from a certified chimney sweep.
You can find tips and advice on how to prevent chimney fires on the safety week website by clicking here.
Find a certified chimney sweep
To find a certified chimney sweep, or for more information on chimney fire safety, please contact: