Chimneys are a novelty to have in the 21st Century. As the centrepiece of any entertaining space, or placed conveniently at the end of your bed, it’s a treat to have an ornate piece of history right there in your property. Even if you’ve renovated your fireplace to ensure it fits with your modern interior, it’s still got a great element of historic value.
And even if you don’t use your chimney, you still need to ensure the upkeep of it is regular. So chimney sweeping should be a term you hear often. If not, then it’s time to start getting your chimney sweep in to check everything’s working. It’s not only to have it cleaned to make it look great, but it’s a health and safety hazard if you fail to get it checked regularly.
Getting a professional chimney sweep is an essential part of your cleaning routine to maintain a pristine home. If you don’t get someone in to undergo this ritual once a year, you could be putting yourself at risk.
What is a Chimney Sweep?
A chimney sweep is a certified individual or team of experts who are chimney cleaning professionals. Saying that there are loads of chimney sweeps out there, so to make sure you’re receiving the best care and service, a bit of research is needed to find the most qualified for the job.
Why do you Need to Have a Chimney Sweep?
Chimney fires are catastrophic for your home if you ever happen to encounter them – according to the National Fire Protection Association, an uncleaned chimney is one of the main causes of house fires. So it’s so important to get your chimney checked regularly to ensure that it’s not a potential contributor to any damage in your home. But also, you need to ensure that you don’t damage your chimney unknowingly. And that’s lighting your chimney when you have a build-up of creosote – produced by burning coal or wood to give you soot or tarry smoke. As it’s highly flammable, it’s a risk if you’re not cleaning it regularly.
The way to see if you need to get a chimney sweep booked is in the thickness of the build-up. Running a fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney, if you feel residue of 1/8 of an inch, it’s time to call the chimney cleaners in. But it’s not just build-up that a chimney sweep will firefight – along with soot build-up, they need to assess obstructions, cracks in the chimney lining and signs of water damage. If you have an older chimney, it may require more maintenance as you’ll have to add to the list of things you need to consider. For one, mortar may have eroded and fallen out, leaving gaps between clay liner sections.
How Much Does a Chimney Sweep Cost?
Of course, all this maintenance comes at a cost. With regular upkeep, it’s important to invest in the right chimney sweep that will ensure you the best health and safety checks.
Generally speaking, in the UK a professional chimney sweep would cost you £50-80 per cleaning session. And of course, this will be higher in London – closer to £90. For larger jobs like removing bird’s nests, you’d expect to pay more.
And for a general cleaning job, you won’t be taking much time out of your day to supervise – the process doesn’t usually take that long to undergo. When we say that you should get your chimney cleaned regularly, we typically mean once a year. That said, always monitor the chimney as when you use it more often – normally in the winter months – you should always think about having more frequent checks.
The same goes when you’re burning woodfires – it’s advisable to have your chimney checked out more frequently as the residue from woodfires is more flammable and can cause nasty build-up if not treated.
When moving into a property with a chimney, always get this checked out as soon as you can. Without knowing the proper history of the property, you can’t be sure how regularly the chimney was checked. It’s also useful for gathering information on what work needs to be done, and what to look out for when thinking about your next chimney check-up. After all, chimneys all have varying needs depending on how old they are, what they’re made of and what’s been burning in it.
During the Chimney Sweep Process
Often enough, chimney sweeps know the cleaning process inside out. With no prior preparation from you apart from clearing the area of any items you think will obstruct the cleaning process, chimney sweep experts have it covered.
You’ll have to book an appointment in advance and have a date confirmed. When the day arrives, the chimney sweeping team will know what needs to be done to control the mess that inevitably comes with cleaning a chimney. The chimney will have to be cool – so the rule of thumb is to restrict your chimney use for the 24 hours leading up to your appointment. They’ll place down a plastic sheet on the surrounding floor, and any nearby furniture so that when they’re finished it appears that no work was even done. That’s from the outside, anyway. Chimney sweeps will work from the top of the chimney down, so they’ll be starting from the roof first.
The main goal with a chimney clean is to reduce the fire hazard to you and your property by scraping off any residue that’s built-up. And that’s why it has to be from top to bottom.
When the work is done, they’ll present a report along with the bill. This should include the condition that your chimney’s in, with the efficiency of the exhaust system and any additional repairs that may be needed in the future. Some professionals even use high-tech cameras to show you footage of areas that need additional care, or that provide evidence of work carried out on previous hazards.
Ultimately, you’ll need to find a trusted, well-reviewed chimney sweep to do the job. This part is half the battle – once you’ve set your sights on a chimney sweep and you’re confident in their ability, it’s smooth sailing. That’s if there’s nothing outstanding after the chimney sweep has checked your chimney out. Saying that a qualified chimney sweep will always leave you in trusted hands.