This area of the website has been created to give you all the information you need about your chimney! Even if you don't live in any of the areas I cover (i.e. Brighton, Hove, Lewes, Eastbourne, Horsham, Burgess Hill, Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas); if you own a chimney that you regularly use, I believe that it is important that you have the facts on how to keep it working efficiently and notice any problems. Please think of this as your online guide for your chimney and on chimney cleaning! If your keen eyes have spotted anything that I have missed out, or you want further details on a topic, please don't hesitate to contact me. I try to keep this site as useful and up-to-date as possible, so any input from you is more than welcomed.
Thanks for reading!
Gary the Chimney Sweep
Considering that so many homes have working chimneys, some information is not as commonly known as it should be. In my line of work, I have come across a few inaccurate beliefs that are shared by a surprising number of homeowners. Here are a few:-
Jenny from Brighton asked: "I don't need to worry about carbon monoxide. My stove isn't fuelled by gas?"
Carbon monoxide poisoning is most often associated with gas leaks. Anything that combusts contains carbon (e.g. wood, coal) and produces carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odourless and a non-irritant and symptoms can be difficult to distinguish between. I cannot stress enough that it is of the utmost importance that preventative measures are taken by keeping your chimney, flue, stove, fireplace etc. well maintained in order to keep you and your family safe. Carbon monoxide detectors should ideally be put in every room that the chimney runs through, to check for flue leakage (smoke leaking from the chimney into the property), when using a fire. If your carbon monoxide detector sounds when the fire is on, contact a HETAS engineer to complete a pressure test on the chimney, to identify where the smoke is leaking from. It may mean that the chimney needs relining.
Phil from Hove asked: "If it burns, surely it's safe to use as fuel?"
People are sometimes led to believe that they can burn any kind of wood on their fire. Kindling is kindling, isn't it? This is an incorrect assumption. Wood needs to be properly treated, so that moisture levels within are at or below the recommended 20%. Correctly treated wood tends to be darker on the outside and whiter on the inside as a result of the drying process. A good tip is to buy wood for your fireplace at least a year in advance of using it, allowing the logs to season as much as possible. This will give you a roaring fire and a better working chimney, and prevent the build-up of tar and creosote in the chimney. There is a lot of talk about which wood is best to burn, so long as the wood has 20% moisture or less, then it’s all fine to burn. The only wood to avoid is treated wood such as old sheds and fence panels.
"I only need to get a chimney sweep once every few years, if I'm not having problems."
For your home insurance, you will need to have your chimneys swept once a year when the chimney is in use, so that it can be certified. Pubs need to be swept twice a year due to the heavy use. Without the proper certificate, you have no proof that you are taking steps to look after the upkeep of your chimney and prevent a chimney fire. Get a professional chimney sweep to sweep and smoke test the chimney, to give you peace of mind.
James from Lewes asked: "I don't need a chimney sweep, can I do it myself?"
If you know how to clean and upkeep your chimney, then this is great news! You will know how to ensure that yours is safe and well looked after. However, if you are not certified to do the job, you will be unable to issue yourself the certificate needed to keep your home insurance valid. Even if you can do a good job of sweeping your chimney yourself, it is a good idea to get a professional chimney sweep in, to inspect the job you have done, and to give you the certificate you need. Please see my 'how to sweep your own chimney' guide below.
Need to brush up on how to keep your flue spick and span? You should find all of the information on chimney cleaning and flue maintenance you need right here.
Bird's Nest Removal
Your chimney space is a perfect home for our feathered neighbours, as it provides them with shelter and warmth. But if they set up home in your flue, it can be dangerous for them and a pain in the backside for you. Here's how they can be safely and humanely removed, and how you can tell if you've got a nest sitting in your chimney.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Safety should be of the highest importance when it comes to owning a working chimney, so this information could be a life saver! I find that many people don't have anywhere near as much access to the facts about carbon monoxide exposure as they should. Hopefully this section will help get the right information to the people who need it (i.e pretty much anyone who uses a chimney!).
Frequently Asked Questions
What? Why? How? - Common chimney sweeping queries and answers to typical issues.
Common Problems and questions
As a professional chimney sweep in and around Brighton, Sevenoaks, Worthing, Portslade and Henfield (and the rest!), I am asked a lot of sweeping and fireplace related questions. I've included in this section my answers to common queries I receive from householders using chimneys, so that you can have more of a clue about your flue!
Every flue needs to have a suitable lining in order to function smoothly. Here, you can find a list of some of the most commonly used liner types so that you can decide which is best for your chimney.
Disclaimer: Please note that under no circumstance would I advise you to clean your own chimney. This guide is an interesting step-by-step description of how the job of sweeping a chimney can be done.
The history of chimney sweeping is an interesting one. Chimney sweeps have been around for a very long time and are still an essential part of most communities to this day.
A list of the most commonly seen types of cowl and their drawbacks and benefits!
An ever-expanding list of the areas I work in and the attractions they have. Even if you live in any of these places, you might learn something new!