Can the chimney be swept with hot ashes in the fire?

No the fire must be not be alight and must not contain any hot ashes. The sweeping service may have to be rescheduled if the fire is still burning or if it is too hot.

How long does it take to sweep a chimney?

It takes around 45 minutes from start to finish to sweep the average chimney. If your chimney sweep is in and out within a short period of time he is not doing the sweep properly.

Why does my chimney smoke?

There are different reasons why your chimney may smoke. Below is a list of the major causes. It may be that only one or a combination of any of them could cause the smoke to blow back into the room.

  • Blocked chimneys

Solution - Having the chimney swept will either correct the problem or highlight where and what the blockage could be. The chimney sweep can the advise on what work will then be necessary.

  • Cold air in the chimney

Solution - if the fire hasn't been lit for a while, the air in the chimney can get cold. Cold air is heavy and if the flue isn't heated quickly enough, the cold air will force the smoke back into the room. Initially, just burn newspaper as this will create a lot of heat quickly and will move the air upwards.

  • Downdraught

Solution - downdraught is a brief flow of air down the chimney resulting in puffs of smoke interfering with the wind flow. To help with this problem, a cowl can be fitted on the pot. It is advisable to ask your chimney sweep which type of cowl to use as there are many different designs suited for the different problems. If the incorrect cowl is fitted, it may make the problem worse with the smoke being pushed back into the room. One reason for downdraught is that the chimney stack has been built too short and another could be trees, buildings or other large high objects in close proximity.

  • Inadequate ventilation

Solution - all fires need air to make them burn properly. A lot of properties are very well insulated with double glazing etc. thus not allowing a flow of replacement air into the room. This can be solved by fitting air vents or simply leaving the door to the room open.

  • The wrong type of cowl fitted on the top of the pot

Solution - many people are ill advised as to the correct type of cowl to fit. Fitting the wrong type can either cause the problem or make it worse. Consult your chimney sweep as to whether you have the right cowl fitted.

  • The wrong sized fireplace

Solution - in the UK, the average size fireplace opening is about 18" wide and 24" high. If it exceeds this by a large amount, some of the smoke may curl out into the room. Try either lifting the grate up or lowering the height.

How can I stop birds nesting?

Birds nesting, especially jackdaws, can be a problem. More so the nearer you get to the countryside. We can install purpose-built bird guards. These should always be used in preference to putting chicken wire on the pot. Proper bird guards are strong enough to withstand any efforts from the birds to pull them off. They do not reduce the size of your chimney pot in any way. (which is important for the draw of your chimney.

Do I need a certificate for my household insurance?

When you have your chimney swept it is advisable that the chimney sweep gives you a certificate to prove to your insurance company in the event of a chimney fire, you have had your chimney swept. More and more insurance companies are requesting this. Your insurance may be invalid if you have a chimney fire with no proof of timely sweep.

Can I burn wet or unseasoned wood?

You should never burn wet or unseasoned wood the main reason for this is as the gases rise up your chimney stack, the moisture in the gas condenses on the inner walls of the chimney stack and sets as a hard tar. In most cases, this will not be able to be removed and if built up sufficiently, the tar could catch fire and lead to a large chimney fire. Burning wet fuel gives little heat and may spit sparks into the room. You can avoid this by buying a moisture meter, which helps you to select dry wood. The wood should not have a moisture above 25% - anything higher will lead to problems.