Let's talk about chimneys
Often people will ask questions like how often should I sweep a chimney, or why is it important to sweep a chimney regularly. On this page at Jimney Sweep we have tried to answer most of the typical questions people ask about chimney cleaning, chimney sweeping, and a little more besides.
Why is it important to sweep a chimney or flue
Chimneys and flues play an essential role in the safe operation of wood burning stoves, open fires, and oil or gas fired stoves by carrying the waste products of combustion to the outside air. Sweeping ensures the safe passage of these waste products.
Over time these waste products coat the inside of the chimney or flue and if left can build up, affecting the capacity of the chimney or flue to safely expel carbon monoxide and smoke, increasing the likelihood of chimney fires, decreasing the lifespan of the flue or chimney, and adversely affecting the efficiency of the fire.
Regular sweeping of your chimney removes the build up of these deposits, greatly reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires, prolonging the lifespan of the chimney or flue, and maintaining the efficient burning of combustible materials. Sweeping also clears other blockages caused by nesting animals, and any other debris.
When to sweep your chimney
This depends on a number of factors but as a general rule of thumb, for the following fuel types, chimney sweeping is as follows:
Wood: Quarterly (When in use. So in the UK that's usually about once a year)
Coal: Quarterly (when in use, and as above)
Smokeless fuels: As above
Oil: Once a year
Gas: Once a year
Bird nests, masonry, incorrect terminals/pots/cowls, and poor ventilation can also cause problems. If your fire or stove is not performing as normal, or you're experiencing a smoky room, blow back, slow burning fire or debris coming down the chimney or flue, then you may well be in need of a sweep.
If you'd like to have a wood burner installed, or open up a disused chimney for use, then you'll need to have your chimney swept prior to the installation of any flue or flue liner, or the re-use of a disused chimney.
If in doubt, call me to discuss your concerns or needs, and if required book a visit.
How to sweep a chimney
I use either a traditional rods and brushes system, or a rotary power sweeping system, depending on the condition of the chimney/flue.
The days of sooty rooms requiring hours of cleaning afterwards are long gone. I use hearth sheets to protect carpets and floors, seal the chimney opening before commencing with cleaning, and have a purpose built industrial vacuum cleaner. I endeavour to leave your home as I found it, except for the chimney, which of course will have been swept to the highest standards.
In some extreme cases, such as bird nest removal, some mess may be inevitable due to the nature of the blockage. However I will always discuss these possibilities with you before commencing work, and every effort will be made to keep any mess to a minimum.
To prepare for my visit it helps if the mantlepiece and hearth are clear of any objects such as ornaments and pictures.
Wood or Coal
The heat output of coal is much greater than that of wood, and coal burns for longer, too. However, ordinary 'house coal' produces a lot of soot, which means you'll need the chimney swept more often than if you use smokeless fuels. But smokeless fuels are more expensive.
Any sort of coal burning releases ancient carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which apparently isn't good, and coal is a finite resource so we'll have to stop burning it sooner or later.
Wood burns quicker and produces less heat than coal, but on the upside it's a sustainable resource, gives good strong heat, is carbon neutral as the carbon released is only what the tree captured during its life, and can often be had for free should one be inclined to be resourceful. Logs can create an attractive feature in homes and gardens, and you can also get warm twice with wood; once when you chop it, and again when you burn it!