Guide to hiring a chimney builder or repairer

Page 1: Chimney inspections
Page 2: Installing a new chimney
Page 3: Costs and questions

Hannah Shanks - Editor

It might seem a straightforward to arrange the repair or building of a chimney but there are many questions that you might not have realised the importance of asking. Here's a beginner's guide to finding the best person to carry out your chimney maintenance for price and quality. Even if you do not think your chimney needs maintenance right now, it could be helpful to think about who you should call on when the time arises.

You should also think about having a regular inspection, especially when you move into a new property as you will not necessarily know when it has last been swept. A chimney that has not been swept recently could cause a chimney fire or cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 12,200 UK homes have chimney fires every year. During the summertime debris such as leaves, paper, and birds nests build up in chimney flues. This, on top of existing soot, can have potential lethal effects. It is imperative you clean chimneys before their first use and employ a professional specialist chimney sweep. You should never consider cleaning your chimneys with a domestic vacuum cleaner.

This guide shows you where to go for more specialist information; there you will be given tailored advice that meets your chimney needs more specifically.

Do I need an inspection?

A chimney should be inspected twice yearly. Costs vary depending on the situation. It is advisable to use The National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) registered chimney sweep. Rogue traders do exist, but HETAS and NACS both have directories of the qualified businesses who should be used for work on chimneys. Call NACS on 01785 811732 or email nacs@chimneyworks.co.uk

The following guidelines come from NACS and are supported by most in the industry.

Official NACS guidelines recommend:

  • At least once a year if you are burning smokeless fuels.
  • At least twice a year if you are burning bitumous coal.
  • At least quarterly if you are burning wood.
  • At least once a year if you are burning oil or gas.

If you don't follow the above advice you could face the horrors of a chimney fire caused by a blocked, choked sooty chimney and blocked chimneys can cause carbon monoxide poisoning caused by incomplete combustion.

Insurers also warn to clean your chimney regularly. Recently Halifax General Insurance reminded home-owners about the importance of sweeping out chimneys before lighting up fires this winter to protect both their properties and their lives. Although you should have a home insurance policy that covers you for fire, you may find it is invalid if you have not had a recent chimney clean.

If in doubt about any chimney problem, always consult your NACS registered, approved Chimney Sweep who will be more than happy to assist you. Call the NACS freephone number 0800 833464 or refer to their website

A NACS professional Chimney Sweep will also issue an A4 size Certificate of Chimney Sweeping which is officially recognised by local authorities, the government and insurance companies. A free copy of a "Heat Your Home Safely" leaflet can be obtained by ringing the freephone number or by sending an email to nacs@chimneyworks.co.uk and a list of local members can be seen on their website www.nacs.org.uk by using the Sweep Search button.

A variety of scenarios could lead to you needing to call out a chimney repairer; visit the sites given on the links in order to identify common problems.

 
 


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