Woodburners and open fires have never been more popular.
But they must be properly cleaned and maintained to be safe. That means getting them professionally swept at least once a year.
The Devon & Somerset fire brigade recommends chimneys and flues are professionally swept at the following intervals, depending on the fuel used:
- Smokeless fuel — at least once a year;
- Wood — quarterly, when in use;
- Bituminous coal — quarterly, when in use; and
- Oil or gas — once a year.
The brigade deals with scores of chimney fires every year, especially during the late winter and early spring. And the main reason for chimney fires is — according to the experts — infrequent sweeping.
Regular chimney sweeping prevents the build-up of highly combustible soot and creosote, which come from wood and coal smoke. And once they catch light, you’ve got a chimney fire on your hands.
Some home-insurers insist on regular sweeping and may not pay-out where householders fail to have flues cleaned by properly-approved sweeps.
The government body that sets the standards for the solid fuel sector, including chimney sweeps, is called HETAS — the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme. You can be sure that a HETAS-approved sweep is accredited by a professional association, has at least £2.5 million worth of third party insurance (in the unlikely event of a mishap in your home), and will do a thorough and competent job.
Professional sweeping will also clear hazardous obstructions, such as bird nests.