Chimney Winter Precautions
Is Your Chimney Safe?
It’s that time of year again – the nights are darker and colder and winter is creeping in! So while you’re getting ready for Christmas, checking you have the wrapping paper, stockpiling mince pies and getting the Christmas decorations out of the loft – don’t forget to get your chimney swept!
As many people are starting to use their fireplaces again for the first time this year, we’ve seen a spate of chimney fires up and down the country with fire services reporting that the problem occurs every year as it starts to get cold. Every year our fire crews deal with an average of 6000 chimney fires, but most of these are preventable – follow our advice for a safer chimney this winter.
What are the most common causes of a chimney fire?
#1 One of the most common reasons for chimney fires is an appliance that is too big for the chimney. Ensure you have your fireplace installed by a professional so you can rest assured that your chimney flue is big enough to cope.
#2 Another common cause is burning the wrong fuel type for your flue. Unseasoned wet wood is one of the biggest culprits, so it’s essential that you only use dried firewood that has a moisture content of no more than 17%.
#3 Leaving your fire burning or smouldering for long periods, such as leaving it burning when you go to bed, is hugely dangerous. Always make sure embers are properly put out before you leave the house or go to bed and use a proper fire guard to protect against sparks and hot embers.
#4 Poor maintenance, irregular cleaning and sweeping and improper inspections can be a massive contributing factor in many chimney fires. Ensure you get a professional out to sweep and inspect it regularly to stop soot building up, and ensure there is no debris, such as a birds nest, that could cause a fire.
How often should you sweep your chimney?
Regular chimney sweeping will reduce the build-up of soot that could cause a fire, but how regularly will depend on what you burn. Smokeless coals, oil and gas fireplaces should have their chimneys swept at least once a year, while bituminous coal fires should be twice a year and if you burn wood you should have your chimney swept up to four times every year!
Always make sure you get a professional company in to sweep your chimney to ensure they properly inspect it and leave it free from debris, soot build-up and other potentially dangerous blockages. Contact the team at The London Chimney Sweeps for more information on the importance of chimney sweeping.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The other big concern with open chimneys and flues is that if there is a problem and the flue stops extracting the fumes from your fireplace, it can become blocked putting you and your family at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.
As such you should ensure that all chimneys and flues are properly cleaned and inspected throughout the year, making sure there are no problems, build-ups or debris that effect your safety, either from the risk of fire or C02 – remember both can be deadly!
Final Winter Precautions
If the worst should happen and fire does break out in your home, your smoke alarm could save your life, alerting you early enough to give you chance to escape! The same is true of the invisible threat of C02 – without an alarm, a C02 leak can quickly cause you to lose consciousness without you ever realising there was a problem! So, every few weeks throughout winter, and the rest of the year, you should test your smoke and C02 alarms and ensure it is functioning properly.