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Chimney Safety

Soot is a flammable material and can when present in sufficient amounts be ignited through sparks / lit material (e.g. scraps of half burnt paper etc) going up the chimney. This scenario is to be avoided since it can result in a chimney fire.

Should the chimney catch fire the entire property will be at risk. Internal temperature will rise significantly - enough heat is typically generated to cause the chimney pot itself to crack. These high flue temperatures may be enough to result in first floor joint- ends reaching 'flashpoint' and will begin to burn along with the floorboards.

Emergency services will in either case douse the property with copious amounts of water. If the fire is within the chimney itself and hasn't yet spread further, water will be pumped down the chimney from the roof in most cases. The resulting mess of many gallons of sooty water and debris pouring into the room from the fireplace / log burner would ruin carpets and furnishings costing many pounds to replace.

Any chimney swept with regularly is extremely unlikely to ever catch fire. In addition the clean flue will help the fuel burn better and allow for the free flow of flue gasses away from the grate and via the pot to easily escape unhindered.

Why Does Your Chimney Needs To Be Swept Regularly?

The inevitable build up of soot in any chimney which is in use will restrict the flow of products of combustion (smoke). This can and ultimately will result in smoke entering the room. Smoke contains among other things fine dust particulates and carbon monoxide gas - which is poisonous.

Soot deposits within the chimney are an additional fire risk.

How Often Does Your Chimney Need To Be Swept?

Protect yourself and your home from dangerous gas leakage carbon monoxide, soot fall and chimney fire. Have your chimney safety checked and swept as often as recommended by the Solid Fuel Association.

Appliance Fuel Type
  Sweeping Frequency
Smokeless Fuel
  Once Yearly
  Twice Yearly
  Quarterly when in use.
  Once Yearly
   (If designed for Chimney Sweeping)
  Once Yearly

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Here is some good advice to avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Get chimneys swept and don’t block ventilation

It is dangerous to block ventilation to your fuel-burning appliances. If you block ventilation to your appliances it can lead to Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Fuel-burning appliances need a consistent supply of air in order for complete combustion to occur and for the appliance to work correctly. If you are concerned about drafts in your home, you should speak to your installation specialist who may be able to recommend a different location in your home for the appliance to be relocated.

If you use a solid fuel burning appliance you should have your chimney swept at least once a year, preferably before each winter, as birds’ nests, falling stonework and rubble, also spider webs and leaves can block chimneys and stop or reduce the flow of air. Any blockage can alter the combustion balance or can cause carbon monoxide to enter the home instead of being safely vented from the property outside.
Appliances that are properly installed and serviced and have sufficient ventilation are efficient and safe.

Fit an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm EN50291

Fitting a European standard approved electronic audible carbon monoxide alarm is a good second line of defence after having your appliances safety checked. In fact, if you cannot get a safety check booked in immediately, you should get an audible alarm now and fit it straight away. It will alert you if your appliance leaks Carbon Monoxide until it can be properly checked and certified by a professional.

Carbon Monoxide alarms need to meet European safety standard – EN50291 and must be electronic and audible. You usually fit them in the room that an appliance is installed but you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as if there is more than one appliance in a home a central location or near bedrooms may be best.

We do not recommend the use of a ‘Black Spot’ indicators as these are often inaccurate have a short life and will not alert or wake you if you are overcome by Carbon Monoxide fumes or asleep.

If you are concerned about the threat of Carbon Monoxide poisoning whilst on holiday in the UK or abroad, you may wish to take a battery-operated Carbon Monoxide alarm with you. Just take out the batteries whilst travelling. The same battery alarms can be used at home and on holiday.

Carbon Monoxide alarms cost as little as £15 and depending on additional features go up to around £30. CO alarms and can be bought from most good DIY stores, some supermarkets and in most cases direct from your energy supplier. If you are a tenant CO alarms may also available to you from your landlord, local council or from Help the Aged for the elderly .

When you buy a Carbon Monoxide alarm, make sure it meets current British and European safety standards. Look for alarms marked with the 'EN50291' standard, this may be written as BSEN 50291and with the 'CE' mark, both of which should be found on the packaging and product. Alarms will have either a Kitemark or LPCB logo to show independent testing and certification.

Remember that Carbon Monoxide alarms must never be used in place of annual safety checks. They are a second line of defence. There is no alternative to proper installation and maintenance of your appliances.

You should never ignore a CO alarm if it goes off and should call the relevant fuel provider for help and if anyone in the home is feeling unwell seek medical advice urgently. As with smoke alarms test regularly with the test button (follow manufacturer’s instructions) and replace batteries annually or when low battery signal sounds.

Why you should get your appliances checked annually?

Appliances that are properly installed and serviced and have sufficient ventilation are usually efficient and safe.

To avoid the production of Carbon Monoxide and to make sure you and your family are safe you must have all your fuel-burning appliances safety checked annually by the relevant professional for your fuel type - either a Gas Safe, HETAS or OFTEC registered installer.

Make sure rooms and heaters are well ventilated and not blocked to stop draughts or to dry clothes

Have your chimneys and flues checked regularly.

Get a Carbon Monoxide alarm for the house.

You increase the risk of your appliance producing Carbon Monoxide if it is badly installed or poorly maintained.

If you have a solid fuel appliance you should empty and check the ash can daily, clean the flue ways at the back of the boiler weekly and clean the throat plates at the top of the room heater monthly.

If you live in rented accommodation with gas appliances your landlord must provide you with proof that a Gas Safe registered installer has safety-checked the appliances within the last 12 months.

Chimneys should be swept regularly depending on the type of fuel and if used daily this could mean up to 2 or 3 times a year, but all chimneys should be swept annually.

You can find more information by visiting the “Be Carbon Monoxide Aware” Website by clicking here or on the Logo above.

Chimney Safety for Landlords

Landlord responsibilities for Chimney Safety:

Solid fuel heating.
Landlords or their Agents legally have a 'duty of care' for their tenants and must maintain solid fuel heating appliances. Solid fuel appliance flues should be swept (depending on usage, fuel type and fuel quality) between 1 and 4 times during the heating season. 

Chimneys servicing gas and oil appliances.

It is the landlords or agents responsibility to maintain the appliances and make sure that flues are swept annually.

All 'live' flues need to be swept and the responsibility cannot be passed on to the tenant.


Tenant responsibilities.

A tenant is responsible for using the heating system, room heater or fireplace in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Landlords must provide literature for the relevant appliance.

The tenant must use the correct fuel and inform the landlord of any defects that arise with the appliance.