Why do chimneys need to be swept?

Your chimney is your exhaust for your fire. It is designed to take away the burnt gases from your fuel. If the chimney gets blocked then dangerous gases and smoke can come back into your room/house. When burning fuel, soot, creosote and tar build up and regular sweeping prevents this. A build up of soot can cause a very dangerous chimney fire which may damage your property. Also birds do like to build nests in chimneys (especially jackdaws) so again regular sweeping and fitting a cage if necessary will prevent this. Please be aware that a lot of insurance companies will no longer pay out on chimney fire damage if a valid certificate of sweeping cannot be produced.

What to do if I have a chimney fire?

It is a fact that Somerset and Devon have the highest rate of chimney fires in the country accounting for 40% of all household fires.
If you think you have a chimney fire then firstly ring 999 and ask for the fire service, get all children and everybody else out the house. If you can try to spray water on the fire in the grate and close all vents on your stove to make it go out. Try to remove any furniture from near the fire and if the chimney breast is hot move any furniture that may be against it.
Close all windows and doors to stop a draft and wait for the fire brigade.
The main thing is not to panic, a chimney fire does sound extremely loud and can be very scary, but if acted on quickly will nearly always remain in the chimney.

What fuels should I burn?

This depends on your appliance, which may be a woodburner only, a multi-fuel stove or an open fire.
The general rule is that when burning wood you should try to get mainly hardwood (ash, beech, etc) and make sure that it has a moisture content of less than 25%. A moisture meter can tell you this and can be picked up for a few pounds of the internet. If the bark easily comes off the logs then they are generally seasoned.
You can also burn solid fuel i.e. coke, smokeless fuel, homefire ovals on your multi-fuel stove or open fire. House coal can also be burnt, but be aware there does tend to be much more waste in it than there used to be.
We recommend burning compressed peat on any of your appliances, this is relatively cheap, burns for long periods and produces little waste.

Why do I have a smoky fire?

This can be caused by many things: a blocked or partially blocked flue, an insufficient air supply, a downdraft in the chimney caused by the wrong type of pot/cowl or tall trees and buildings nearby.

What is carbon monoxide?

This is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas which is very toxic to humans.
It is produced by the burning of any fuel which does not burn properly, wood, coal, oil, gas. This can be caused by a blocked flue/chimney, a chimney that is not swept regularly and increasingly the incorrect fitting of boilers/stoves etc.
The symptoms can be a headache, nausea, dizziness, stomach pain. If you have a fire/stove/boiler and you experience any of these then go to fresh air, seek medical attention if required and get your appliance checked by a professional.
Invest in a carbon monoxide alarm. These cost about £15, can be picked up from any hardware store and could save your life!

More questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further information or have any other questions.