Frequently Asked Questions
Getting The Best From Your Chimney Sweep
What are the benefits of hiring a professional chimney sweep?
A good chimney sweep will have the necessary training and experience to notice problems which might lead to chimney fires or inefficient burning and will be able to bring these problems to your attention.
Most chimney sweeps will also inspect your chimney for potential problems from the roof (we carry out a quick check with a drone with a remote CCTV camera). Even if you have an idea about what to look for, it might be problematic, or even dangerous, for you to attempt this yourself. It is also unlikely that your own untrained eye would notice more subtle problems, such as signs of freeze-thaw weathering. If a problem is noticed early, it will probably be easier, and cheaper, to fix.
It is also much more convenient to hire a professional to take what will inevitably be a time consuming, physically draining and messy job off your hands. Hiring a professional would also bring you the peace of mind of knowing that problems have not been overlooked and that your chimney is safe and well-maintained.
How often should I have my chimney cleaned?
At least once a year. Chimney sweeps usually advise that chimneys ought to be cleaned after a period of prolonged disuse (over the summer for example). Many also advise that chimneys should be cleaned before the end of the heating season to ensure that the chimney is clear of animal nests and prepared for the subsequent idle period.
If a chimney is used very often, it might be necessary to sweep it more often. A professional chimney sweep would be able to advise the optimum cleaning schedule for your chimney.
Should I clean my own chimney?
We may be living in a time in which every penny matters but you are advised to resist the temptation to clean the chimney yourself. Firstly, it is a very messy and physically demanding job and secondly, cleaning the chimney with a brush attached to a pole won’t remove potentially very dangerous creosote effectively, not to mention that walking on the roof is very dangerous by itself.
In addition to having the knowledge and all the tools required to remove creosote effectively with minimal mess, a professional chimney sweep will also check your chimney for signs of damage that can pose a safety risk or affect your stove’s efficiency. Simply put, it isn’t worth the bother and worry if you cleaned the chimney thoroughly enough. Also, most insurance companies require you to have your chimney swept at least once a year to comply with the insurance contract (with a proper certificate). Needless to say, they don’t recognise DIY chimney sweeping.
Do I need to have my chimney swept if I have a gas fire?
Yes, although less frequently. Blockages in chimneys connected to gas fires can lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide and other harmful gases. A professional chimney sweep can advise how often your chimney ought to be swept.
How much does it cost to hire a chimney sweep?
This depends upon where you live and how much work there is to do. If you live in a large house in very remote area which has several chimneys, you will obviously pay more than someone who lives in a smaller house which has only one or two chimneys.
As a rough guide, a homeowner looking for Elite Chimney Sweep to clean two chimneys should expect to pay something in the region of £40-£60 per chimney. This is dependent on how often the chimney is used and how much build of soot or creosote there is.
Will I receive a certificate after my chimney or flue is cleaned?
Yes, we issue a certificate every time we clean your chimney or flue. This is often useful if you are selling your home – it indicates that your are diligent and take safety seriously. Insurance companies will also request a sweeping or cleaning certificate in the event of a fire or damage.
Always keep your certificates and chimney sweeping records safe. It’s often a good idea to take a copy of these and keep your copies in a different location.
Some general tips
- It is better to burn hard woods than soft woods. Not only do hard woods burn slower, making them more economical, they also make the fire burn hotter. This reduces the amount of creosote deposited inside the chimney, which will help keep your chimney cleaner for longer. Reducing the amount of this flammable substance inside your chimney also has considerable safety benefits.
- Do not use artificial logs.
- Purchase a good guard for your fireplace. A fire with a well-functioning chimney is still unsafe if sparks from the fireplace come into contact with a carpet or furniture.
- The best safety precaution you can take is to have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep on a regular basis. There are, however, certain warning signs that you can look out for yourself. A fire that is burning more slowly than usual can be sign of a partially blocked chimney, as can the presence of smoke in the room.
- Always install a carbon monoxide detector in any room that has a wood burner, multi-fuel stove or range (oil, multi-fuel or gas). Under current building regulations, for all new builds, it is a requirement to install interconnected mains powered carbon monoxide detectors (with a battery backup). It’s also a very good idea to install a smoke alarm or heat detector – all fire brigades promote this. For a small fee you can protect yourself, your family and your pets.