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Get your chimney swept (Santa is on his way)

When thinking of chimney sweeps, we might get the vision of a scrawny, browbeaten Victorian child in our head or the Dick Van Dyke character in Mary Poppins. However, chimney sweeps have never gone away (though luckily the terrible working conditions have) and with the rising popularity of wood burning stoves, are now in increasingly high demand.

Did you know that if you use any gas or solid-fuel heating appliance in your fireplace, you should make sure you have your chimney or flue regularly swept?  

Chimneys allow combustion gasses to safely escape from properties. A blocked chimney or flue can have dire results including fire, inhalation of fumes such as carbon monoxide, and can also cause smoke damage to your home. In fact there are thousands of chimney fires across the UK annually, usually caused by a build up of debris from soot and  things such as bird nests too.

Regular chimney/flue sweeping removes soot, creosote, birds nests, cobwebs and other unwanted blockages. Cleaning the chimney/flue will also improve the efficiencies of some appliances. 

It’s also crucial to note that wood burning stoves require regular flue maintenance – they are absolutely not a fit and forget product.

Although appliances vary, a basic rule by thumb is that you should have your chimney swept:

  • Smokeless fuel: At least once a year
  • Wood: Quarterly when in use
  • Bituminous coal: Quarterly when in use
  • Oil: Once a year
  • Gas: Once a year

Source: The National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS)


Modern day chimney sweeps are trained with qualifications and can also be members of their own trade or professional bodies too. Look out for:

The National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS)  

Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps

Association of Professional Independent Chimney Sweeps

The Heating Equipment and Testing Approval Scheme (HETAS) runs an online find a chimney sweep service for all members of the above three organisations.

Remember that if you use gas or oil fuelled appliances you should also have them serviced annually by a Gas Safe or OFTEC registered engineer. You can also search for professional engineers in your area via the CIPHE website