Chimney sweeping is essential to meet your insurance policy. When was the last time you had your chimney swept? Did you know that most insurance policies may be invalidated by a fire in your chimney if it has not been cleaned in the last 12 months?

To ensure that your fireplace meets your insurance guidelines, chimney sweeping is essential.

Three great reasons to be warm and safe this year:

  1. Select Home Services Ltd (PeteSweep) guarantee to leave your home as clean as we found it… Not all chimney sweeps make a mess. We’re so neat & tidy that we offer you an unconditional guarantee – either your home is as clean as we found it or you don’t pay!! You won’t even know we were there!!
  2. We do a complete job in less than an hour… select home services run through a visual 11 point safety check, ensuring that every nook and cranny is attended to – better yet, we set up, sweep and clean everything up in less than an hour!
  3. We offer a prompt, professional & friendly service… and provide you with an insurance receipt on completion.

This doesn’t have to happen but it will at some stage if the chimney or flue isn’t cleaned on a regular basis.

chimney fire

Open fires

When smoke or fumes actually escape into the room, the more common reasons are:

  • Insufficient draught to carry the smoke away
  • Complete stoppage of draught
  • Low pressure
  • Difficult site conditions

When you have your chimney/flue cleaned you will have 3 stages of build up to be cleaned

1. 1st stage light powder called “soot” this is easily removed and will be of no concern to your sweep or yourself.

2. 2nd stage a build up of what looks similar to black pumice stone or black potato chips, generally easy to remove and again unless a huge amount will not be of such a major concern as long as it is caught in time.

3. 3rd stage very similar to a shiney black kitchen tile or an aspahlted road,glazed and the most dificult to clean if at all.

Chimney cleaning

Stages 1 and 2 are usually very easy to deal with but stage 3 is a very different beast to deal with.

Remember that in all the 3 cases above you should not blame your sweep, he cannot determine what or how you burn your fire.

Quite often some customers sweep the chimney/flue at the start of the season then at some stage they may have to get it re-swept again if stages 2 & 3 have occurered and again it is nothing to being swept incorrectly it is due to the fuel being burnt and the way it is burned.

As a company we return to at least 10 properties a season, usually where stage 2 and 3 have taken place

Our sweeps will always do their best to advise customers as to the cause of their blocked chimney/flue and advise what can be done to avoid a reoccurence of the problem.

If you use your fire a lot in the season there is no reason why you would not get it cleaned twice a year,in fact more people are doing this to ensure blockages don’t occur.

Safety check

This is something we do during the routine sweeping of your chimney/flue.

It is an 11 point check which is broken into 2 groups “efficiency” and “safety”.

Any defect found will be recorded and conveyed verbally to you for the necessary action to be taken.

Creosote and Chimney Fires: What you MUST KNOW!

Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to safely contain wood-fueled fires, while providing heat for a home. The chimneys that serve them have the job of expelling the by-products of combustion – the substances given off when wood burns.

As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove, and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote. Creosote is black or brown in appearance. It can be crusty and flaky … tar-like, drippy and sticky … or shiny and hardened. Often, all forms will occur in one chimney system.

Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities – and catches fire inside the chimney flue- the result will be a chimney fire. Although any amount of creosote can burn, sweeps are concerned when creosote builds up in sufficient quantities to sustain a long, hot, destructive chimney fire.

Certain conditions encourage the build up of creosote, restricted air supply, unseasoned wood and cooler-than-normal chimney temperatures are all factors that can accelerate the build up of creosote on chimney flue walls.

Air supply: The air supply on fireplaces may be restricted by closed glass doors or by failure to open the damper wide enough to move heated smoke up the chimney rapidly (the longer the smoke’s “residence time” in the flue, the more likely is it that creosote will form). A wood stove’s air supply can be limited by closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon and too much, and by improperly using the stovepipe damper to restrict air movement.

Burning unseasoned firewood: Because so much energy is used initially just to drive off the water trapped in the cells of the logs – burning green wood keeps the resulting smoke cooler, as it moves through the system, than if dried, seasoned wood is used.

Cool flue temperatures: In the case of wood stoves, fully-packed loads of wood (that give large cool fires and eight or 10 hour burn times) contribute to creosote build up. Condensation of the unburned by-products of combustion also occurs more rapidly in an exterior chimney, for example, than in a chimney that runs through the centre of a house and exposes only the upper reaches of the flue to the elements.

How chimney fires damage chimneys

When chimney fires occur in masonry chimneys – whether the flues are an older, unlined type or are tile lined to meet current safety codes – the high temperatures at which they burn (around 2000′ F) can “melt” mortar, crack tiles, cause liners to collapse and damage the outer masonry material. Most often, tiles crack and mortar is displaced, which provides a pathway for flames to reach the combustible wood frame of the house. One chimney fire may not harm a home. A second can burn it down. Enough heat can also conduct through a perfectly sound chimney to ignite nearby combustibles.

Ways to keep the fire you want… from starting one you don’t!

Chimney fires don’t have to happen. Here are some ways to avoid them:

  • Use seasoned woods only (dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations)
  • Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees; these can spark a chimney fire.
  • Have the chimney inspected and cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Chimney fires only happen because of what we burn and how we use them.

If you have two open fires in the house then in most case you will have one stack (shown) but each fire will have its own chimney, the fires do not share the same chimney.