There were around 5000 reported chimney fires 2014 – 2015. The real number will be far greater as not all fires result in an emergency call. Also, as professional sweeps, we know that some customers have smaller chimney fires they are unaware of. Chimney fires can be slow and quiet or burn explosively – noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbours or passers-by. Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney.
A fierce chimney fire will most likely cause damage. This damage may not be apparent at first and everything may seem fine. Do not use the appliance / chimney until a full survey has been carried out and a report produced. This will often require the use of specialist CCTV surveying equipment
Chimney fires don’t have to happen. Here are some ways to avoid them:
- Use seasoned woods only with a water content of less than 20%. A moisture meter is very useful.
- Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, waste paper or Christmas trees. These can start a chimney fire as bits can get sucked up the flue, setting fire to soot or tar in the chimney
- Burn recommended fuels ONLY and NEVER use your fire for waste disposal. This can start chimney fires and produces toxic chemicals.
- If you are unsure check the manufacturer’s instructions or ask your stove supplier. Your local fuel merchant may also be able to give you advice as of course will your Guild sweep.
- If you have a thatch property it is very important to follow your insurance company recommendations and Local Authority guidelines.
- Make sure you are aware of the frequency that your chimney must be swept in order to comply with your insurance policy. Your Guild sweep may advise a more regular sweeping frequency than your insurance company requires depending on your situation and what they find in your chimney.