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Is regular chimney sweeping really necessary?

EmbersFullWoodburners 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.

Sweeping throughDemothe West Country
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