If we asked you to think of a chimney sweep, we would bet our bottom dollar you’d picture Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. While this endearing portrayal of the job may be more fairytale than reality, the reality is that a chimney sweep should be visiting your home more often than you might have thought.
Your chimney is essentially a vent for excess dust, soot, smoke and gases to escape from. If you don’t want these things coming into your home because of the dirt, mess and toxins, then you aren’t going to want them building up inside your chimney. But what a lot of homeowners don’t realise is that it doesn’t take long for a residue to develop in the chimney and this can be potentially hazardous.
There are many reasons that hiring a chimney sweep as part of your stove system maintenance is essential and in this guide, we will be giving you everything you need to know.
If you’ve only started using your chimney since the installation of your wood burner or multi-fuel stove, then you could be forgiven for thinking that hiring a chimney sweep isn’t something you would need to do that often. But the truth is that this is a job that should be done at least one every 12 months. That being said, most professionals would agree that a biannual clean is the best option.
Not only will this keep your chimney functioning safely and to the best of its ability, but it will also prevent hard work down the line. If the residue inside the chimney is allowed to build up over time, it will be much more difficult to remove and therefore, more costly.
Speaking of cost, one of the things that you should factor in when considering purchasing a stove are the maintenance costs. Having your chimney swept should be included in the budget, but you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the work doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
In fact, most chimney sweeps will charge just £60 to £100 for a single clean, with the average cost being around the £90 mark. If you consider that this needs to be done twice a year, and you would pay the average amount, you could break it down into monthly payments of just £15!
A lot of people wonder whether they can sweep their own chimney and while this is possible, we wouldn’t recommend it. Sweeping a chimney can, primarily, be a very messy job and this can be frustrating. Furthermore, for an inexperienced person, the process may take a considerable amount of time, not to mention that you will need special equipment to get the job done properly.
While there are things you can hire to make chimney sweeping easier, such as chimney vacuums, these are typically only suitable for very well-maintained chimneys. Typically, using professional brushes is the best option but this can be very physically demanding.
Why It Is Important To Have Your Chimney Swept
We have talked about the fact that residues and debris can build up inside the chimney and cause it to become blocked, which could be hazardous. But there are much more detailed reasons that you should be having your chimney regularly swept; let’s take a closer look at these.
Prevent Chimney Fires
As your stove burns, flammable materials like tar will build up in the interior surfaces of your chimney and this can lead to the chimney becoming a potential fire hazard. Nobody wants to go through the trauma of a house fire, and yet chimney sweeping is so widely overlooked.
Furthermore, if there is a lot of debris and residue in the chimney, this can cause it to become blocked which poses a serious fire risk.
Protect Your Health
Depending on what you are burning, there could be a variety of chemicals coming from the fire. In modern homes, smokeless fuels are often preferred but this doesn’t mean that the fire itself doesn’t produce chemical gases that could be fatal to your and your family if they enter your home.
Fire produces various gases but one of the most lethal is carbon monoxide. If your chimney is not regularly swept, it will become blocked and this means that these dangerous gases could enter your home. Carbon monoxide is odourless and is often known as the silent killer with people dying because they have unknowingly been inhaling this lethal gas.
While having your chimney swept regularly will massively reduce the risk of carbon monoxide flooding back into the home, it is always a sensible idea to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Protect Your Home
Most homes in the UK are made from brick and this material is incredibly robust. It can withstand high levels of heat and will last for many hundreds of years when properly cared for. However, owing to the heat, debris, gases and residues that will build upon the internal walls of the chimney, it doesn’t take long for the masonry to begin degrading.
Paying the small fee for having your chimney regularly swept is far more preferable than having to fork out for detailed repair works on your chimney. Furthermore, if the masonry is very damaged, there may be a risk of collapse which would pose a threat to your and your family.
Keep The Chimney Free From Debris
We have impressed the importance of removing debris and blockages from the chimney but our focus has largely been on build-up from the stove itself. But did you know that other things can get inside that could pose just as much of a risk?
Birds will often nest in chimneys, especially those that aren’t used and this can cause a serious blockage. What’s more, it is not uncommon for chimneys to be filled with cobwebs, dead birds and other natural materials.
If you move into a new home that has a chimney, particularly an used one, it is essential that you book an appointment with a chimney sweep as soon as possible after moving in.
Improve The Stove’s Efficiency
When you install a wood burner or multi-fuel stove, one of the most important things to think about is how efficient the stove is. Most modern stoves are designed to be fuel-efficient but this can dwindle if the stove is fitted to a chimney that is partially blocked with soot residue and debris. A clean chimney that is free from debris will produce the most efficient output.
Choosing A Chimney Sweep
There are many people out there advertising chimney sweeping services and, for the most part, you will find that you are provided with a professional and detailed service. However, there are those out there that do not have the correct training to complete this delicate work and so it always pays to do your research before choosing a sweep.
One of the first things you should be looking for is a chimney sweep who is registered with the National Association Of Chimney Sweeps (NACS). It can also help you read reviews of the person to find out what previous clients have thought of their work.
It is also important to ask questions so that you feel confident that the sweep knows what they are doing. If somebody cannot answer even your most basic questions, it might be best to look for someone else to complete the work.
Hiring a chimney sweep twice a year is one of the best ways to keep your chimney clean and functioning at its best. While it is possible to clean the chimney yourself, this can often be a messy and time-consuming job that is best left to the professionals. The process won’t cost a lot and there are plenty of reasons that staying on top of your chimney’s cleanliness will be beneficial.