General Chimney Information
Frequency of Chimney Cleaning
Chimneys should be cleaned (swept) at regular intervals. The frequency, which you will require our services will depend upon several factors:
- How often the fire/stove is used - The more frequently the fire is used the more frequently it will require cleaning. It is important to remember when the flue was last cleaned so that proper intervals can be maintained.
- What fuel is burnt – The following statistics are based upon a fire in frequent use:
Bituminous Coal: A least twice a year. However, poor quality coal may require the flue to be cleaned more frequently. Smokeless Fuel: At least once a year. Wood: Four times a year (when in use). The wood should be well seasoned and must not be damp. Oil / Gas: Once a year.
- How the fuel is burnt – When using your fire the temperature at which it is operated can have an effect on the build-up of deposits in the flue. A fire/stove that is left to smoulder for long periods will burn at a lower temperature and lead to an increased build-up of deposits
A chimney fire is both dangerous and frightening. A burning chimney reaches an incredibly high temperature and can not only cause significant damage to the inside of the chimney flue, but depending upon how the house was constructed can spread into other areas with catastrophic results.
In the event of a chimney fire CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE immediately. Do not attempt to put your fire out with water, instead use damp earth or sand. Holding a wet blanket over the fireplace opening further slows things down.
Regular chimney sweeping each year is the only way to reduce the risks of a chimney fire.
The only British birds that nest in chimneys are Jackdaws. These are tenacious intelligent birds. The nests that they build can be huge and take hours to remove properly. Any nesting material will significantly reduce or completely stop the flow of flue gasses, causing severe smoking into your room. The only solution is to remove the nest and immediately fit a guard before the birds have a chance to return.
In the springtime juvenile birds of any type are very inquisitive. Many will try to explore the inside of a chimney pot before they realise they are stuck. Many die but some will make it all the way down your chimney flue and into your newly decorated home, whereupon they can cause a significant amount of damage.
Downdraughts can be caused by several different conditions.
- The fire opening can often be too large for the draw of the flue. There is a standard calculation that governs whether a fireplace is too large for the size of the flue. If this proves to be the case then the flue will be insufficient for the volume of gasses within it. Reducing the size of the fireplace opening usually cures these problems.
- Cold air in the chimney can often prevent the warm air rising. This is particularly prevalent at the end of the summer or when your fire has not been used for some time. Cold, stagnant air inside the flue can prevent the warm air of a newly lit fire from progressing up the flue and will instead spill into your room. The best remedy is to warm the flue with a hair-drier or similar device for a few minutes before relighting your fire.
- Position. Another main reason for downdraughts is the position of the property; if it is on a hillside, a steep valley or surrounded by other large buildings or trees, then depending upon the direction of the wind downdraughts can occur. We fit a variety of different cowls that counter this effect.
Tarring of a Chimney
Chimney flues are liable to form a thick tarry coating on the inside, which can set rock hard if they are not burnt in the correct manner. It is important to burn well-seasoned and dry wood to ensure deposits are kept to a minimum. Fires should maintain a good flame and not be starved of oxygen.
The mistake people make is to fill their stove with wood and close the vents hoping to run the stove through the night. Without sufficient heat with which to drive the resinous deposits through the flue they stick to the inside where they are liable to either catch fire when dried and heated or turn to liquid and slowly drip down the fireback behind the stove causing a terrible smell.
Broken Chimney Pot
Chimney pots do not last forever. Occasionally they will crack; this can be caused by the weather and frost, but is usually down to a chimney fire, often without the householder’s knowledge. This can become a problem when it comes to sweeping and it has been known for a broken pot to split apart and fall to the ground. We fit many different types from reclaimed antique styles to new roll-top designs.