Chimneys are important for providing ventilation for fireplaces, but there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your chimney is working to the best of its ability. Chimneys need regular cleaning and maintenance from chimney care professionals to ensure that they are safe and functioning correctly.

When it comes to chimney maintenance, there are several key steps that should be taken to ensure you are getting the most out of your fire.

So, read on to find out how to look after your chimney.

Burning the correct fuel for your fire

To maintain the health of your chimney flue, fireplace and chimney cowl, it is important to burn the correct fuel. This would also benefit the surrounding environment internally and externally and improve the quality of air circulation.

It is also important to ensure you are burning dried, seasoned wood. The government brought in the Clean Air Strategy in a bid to clean up the air that we breathe. Certain types of wood and fuel have to be burned in order to reduce pollution and limit harmful gases. The types of fuel that you can burn can often depend on the type of fire and your location as certain areas such as conservation areas will have tighter restrictions.

Burning dry wood also produces more heat and less soot than wet wood and can reduce emissions by up to 50%.

Cleaner alternatives, such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels will have a better impact on the environment and the sale of wet wood is no longer permitted. Wet wood can also damage your chimney. With this type of wood, tar and soot is more likely to build up inside your chimney, restricting airflow and becoming a fire safety hazard. Dry or seasoned wood is often dried in a kiln and has an ideal moisture content of 20% or less.

The new restrictions mean that:

  • From the 1st May 2021, sales of bagged traditional house coal and wet wood in units under 2m3 are now unlawful.
  • Suppliers of wet wood must educate buyers on how to dry their wood before use.
  • Manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke should be used e.g smokeless coal.

If you have the room, buy your wood a year ahead so you know it has had time to season. Additionally, it is important to ensure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order and that they are tested regularly.

How do I know when my chimney needs cleaning?

Chimney temperature is an important factor to consider when it comes to chimney maintenance. The temperature of the flue should be monitored regularly, as too high a temperature can cause damage to the structure of the chimney and even start a fire.

Below are the common signs that your chimney needs a clean.

  • Spillage of smoke
  • Unusual smells from your chimney
  • Fire unable to hold a strong flame
  • Clean chimneys

The ideal temperature for your chimney should be between 250-400°F (121-204°C). If you notice that your chimney is hotter than this, it is important to have it checked by a professional.

It is also important to check for any blockages in the chimney, as these can cause smoke and carbon monoxide to build up in your home. If you notice any strange smells or smoke coming from your chimney, it is best to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Cleaning your fire

Regular cleaning and maintenance at home is also beneficial to ensure proper maintenance of your fire.

  1. Before you start using your fireplace, it is important to clean it thoroughly.
  2. Remove any debris or ash from the previous season and make sure that all of the components are in working order. You can do this by sweeping out with a dustpan and brush or handheld vacuum cleaner.
  3. Sweep down the glass door on your stove and purchase some stove glass cleaner. Over time the glass can become scratched and damaged, so it is best to keep on top of this.

How often should you clean your chimney?

It is recommended that you have your chimney serviced and cleaned at least once a year. This will help to ensure that the flue is free of any blockages or debris and that the temperature of the flue is within the safe range. Regular maintenance can also help to prevent chimney fires, as well as reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

According to HETAS, 40% of chimney fires in 2021 and 2022 occurred between January and March, which is consistently the period with the highest amount of chimney fires each year; 2,608 chimney fires were reported in this same time period. 

How often should you have your chimney serviced?

It is important to have your chimney serviced and inspected at least once a year by a qualified professional. This will help to ensure that the flue is free of any blockages or debris, and that the temperature of the flue is within the safe range. Regular maintenance can also help to prevent chimney fires, as well as reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Finding the right chimney maintenance services

It is important to find a professional company to carry out your cleaning and maintenance. Look for a company that is certified by the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) and has experience in dealing with chimneys.

It is also important to make sure that the company you choose is insured and bonded, as this will protect you from any potential damages or losses.

In addition, choosing the right type (or types) of accessory - known as "chimney cowls" - is essential in order to keep your system operating efficiently and safely. Installing a cowl correctly is just as important; if done incorrectly, you may end up with limited efficiency or worse still, building damage from water build-up or leakage.

Do you want to ensure proper ventilation and protection for your chimney? Are you considering installing a chimney cowl, but are not sure how or when to use one? The FlueCube has been designed with efficiency in mind and can:

  • Help optimise the perfect chimney temperature
  • Help keep your chimney and flue efficiently ventilated
  • Keep nesting birds or animals out of your chimney
  • Improve the energy efficiency within your home
  • Help reduce downdraught in your home

Regular maintenance can help to prevent chimney fires, as well as reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Need any more advice on how to look after your chimney? Contact us!