Chimney sweeping and stove servicing are integral to maintaining an effective stove and flue system. It is essential that your flue is swept and your stove cleaned thoroughly and checked at least once a year.
Chimney sweeping: £45.00 – approx. 30-40 mins
Chimney sweeping and stove clean (service): £60.00 – approx. 50-60 mins
Bird nest removal: £15.00 per additional 30 mins
Consumable parts: Varies depending on parts
Chimney sweeping & services – why do it?
Just like a car, your flue and stove needs to be maintained. The main reason for “chimney sweeping” is to prevent the build-up of soot and tar like substances that are waste products from combustion. Chimney sweeping also prevents and removes blockages such as bird nests. Your stove should be cleaned and serviced to improve and maintain its longevity ensuring that it is working as well as it should be.
If you don’t have your stove and flue maintained correctly you are putting yourself in danger. For example you are prone to chimney fires and CO poisoning.
Prior to an flexible flue liner installation, the flue is also swept to ensure that the liner is free from any debris or flammable materials.
How often should I have a chimney sweep & service?
Your stove should be serviced once a year.
Your flue should be swept at least once a year.
For example, if you have a fire over 5 times a week, every week for a 3 month period – get it swept.
Stove manufacturers and liner manufacturers recommend chimney sweeping at least twice a year.
Furthermore; if you have a fire and haven’t used it for over a year – get it swept; if you’ve recently moved into a house and are unsure if the flue has been swept – get it swept.
The best time to have your stove serviced and flue swept for the first time are between the months of May and August. If you have a bird guard cowl and you know that birds haven’t nested during May and June then it is a good idea to have a small fire the night before your sweep is due as this tends to loosen the waste products in your flue leading to a more efficient sweep.
This was the biggest birds nest we’ve come across.
Honestly – all that nest came from one flue!
This is why you should sweep regularly…
Thanks to Mandy at Chyverton Park Equestrian
Chimney sweeping – how I do it
There are many ways to sweep a flue. It’s not just a case of sticking a brush on the end of a rod and shoving it up there; nor is it all about finding the biggest brush that will fit your flue and vigorously moving it back and forth – this will likely tear your liner. There are different sizes and types of brushes and rods. There are also different techniques that are used to effectively remove the waste products from your flue. Knowing what technique and what equipment should be used for your particular “sweep” will prevent damage to your flue, maintain its warranty and effectively clean your flue.
I use a traditional method of chimney sweeping, as I prefer to “feel” our brushes and the obstacles I encounter. I use dustsheets, floor runners and plastic sheets. I don’t make a mess and leave your stove in better condition than how I found it.
The majority of people want to know what and how much “stuff” came out of their chimney. We part this information as standard and any recommendations will also be provided along with a certificate of attendance on completion of your sweep.
I’ll check the moisture content of your wood to ensure it is fit for burning. It needs to be under 25%, and ideally under 20%.
Stove service – how I do it
In addition to chimney sweeping, the service involves safety checks to all components of the system including your cowl, CO alarm, and other supporting and integral parts of the installation such as guy wires, supports and closure plates where applicable. Furthermore your stove will be thoroughly cleaned. This means that I will dismantle your stove: I will remove and clean the firebricks, baffle plate and ash pan so that we can access the body of your stove to clean it ensuring that there are no waste products such as creosote building up and damaging your stove. I will check all the seals and parts to ensure everything is working correctly. If anything does need replacing, then this will be charged accordingly. Additional service costs may include: repainting the stove, replacing rope seals, fire-bricks, stove glass and other parts – considered consumable.
Chimney fires and other problems
Depending on what you burn, how the flue is terminated and how tall and straight the flue is, your flue is susceptible to problems such as blockages, creosote build-up, chimney fires and poor draw which could lead to CO poisoning.
Sounds scary right? However don’t be too put off having a stove installed as these problems are easy to avoid if you follow some simple rules.
In fact the first “rule” is how it is installed – which is actually down to me. I ensure your flue is swept prior to installation to clear any combustible debris already within the flue so that your liner doesn’t rest on this and heat it up. I also ensure that your flue is as straight and as tall as possible. If I am installing a rigid twin wall flue, I will advise the safest and best place for it to be installed.
One rule you should follow involves what and how you burn your fuel. Not abiding by this rule will lead to a build-up of a thick treacle-like tar substance known as creosote.
Creosote is bad. It is sticky and highly flammable. It loves sticking to your flue and can cause blockages, poor draw and chimney fires.
The basic principles taken from these sections are not to burn “green” wood and not to burn wood and multifuel at the same time as both combustion methods will form creosote.
As creosote is flammable it can catch alight within your flue and form a chimney fire. This will undoubtedly destroy your lining at the very least. Because creosote sticks to your flue, it will also narrow the diameter of your flue. This can cause issues such as poor draw. Consequences of this would be seen as smoke entering your room from the stove. Other more dire consequences involve CO poisoning (see below – Carbon Monoxide – poisoning & alarms).
Other reasons for blockages and fires involve bird nests which are covered in more detail below. The sure fire way of preventing bird nests is to install an appropriate bird guard cowl. We do this as standard.
What to do in the event of a chimney fire?
You basically want to close off the air supply to the stove, get out and call the fire brigade.
You close off the air supply by closing down the air vents, closing the windows and closing the doors of the room.
By reducing the air supply you are depriving the fire of oxygen, so eventually it will go out. Oxygen is one of three components that form the Fire Triangle. Fire needs each component. Take one away and the fire will not survive. The other components are fuel and heat/fire.
Bird nest removal
I regularly remove bird nests when chimney sweeping, whether these are big or small, new or have been there for a very long time.
If you have a “live” chimney and suspect that a bird is attempting to nest, you should have this investigated immediately or you may find that you will go without a fire for a few months. The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) protects birds that have nested and laid eggs and are rearing their fledglings. Bird nest removal cannot occur until the fledglings have left the nest. Otherwise we could face a £5,000 fine and/or a 6 month stint inside one of Her Majesty’s fine institutions! Jackdaws are the main culprits for next building that concern us as they like to nest within a warm dry flue which is typically about 3 metres down from the pot. You would know that they are starting to nest as you would notice twigs coming down the flue and you would be able to hear them chatting away. You would also be able to see their busy activity if you were to look outside as the master builders enter and exit your flue!
They are also habitual creatures and will return to nest every year unless you put a cowl that has the right type of bird guard on the terminal end of your flue. Jackdaws will typically nest at the end of April and will inhabit your flue until the beginning of July. The only exception whereby we are legally allowed to remove the nest during this time is if the stove is your only source of heat or cooking and you have been granted a license by “Natural England” in England.
Bird nests may take a few hours to clear and the cost to remove these varies – it is typically a call out fee and then an hourly rate.