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What causes chimney fires? 


You should have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room with a solid fuel appliance (i.e. one that burns a solid fuel such as coal, wood or charcoal). Under new laws that came into effect in October 2015 landlords are required to fit carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms containing solid fuel appliances.

Sweep Your Chimney before you use it!

If you have not used your open fire or wood burner for some time – for example since last winter - we recommend that you have you chimney swept before you light it to avoid anything that has fallen into it over the last year catching fire. We also recommend that you have your chimney swept regularly to prevent unburnt debris building up as these deposits in the chimney or flue can catch fire again later.

Prevent your chimney catching fire:

  • Ensure chimneys are swept regularly by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Between “sweeps” keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained.
  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm.  Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
  • Never store the fuel next to the appliance so sparks do not set it alight.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Ensure good quality and appropriate fuel is used.
  • Avoid blocking air vents or air bricks or otherwise interrupting the air supply.
  • Avoid ‘slumbering’ an appliance (unless it has been tested as safe to do so). Slumber mode is when an appliance is purposely set at a low or minimum output normally for overnight burning to be revived in the morning without the need for relighting.
  • Appliances that have been lined still require regular sweeping.

Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel used:

  • Smokeless fuels – at least once a year
  • Bituminous coal – at least twice a year
  • Wood – quarterly when in use
  • Oil – once a year
  • Gas – once a year (Any work on gas appliances requires a Gas Safe registered installer/engineer)

After a chimney fire

After a chimney fire has occurred it must be inspected thoroughly as soon as possible by a Certified Sweep before the chimney is used again. This is to ascertain if the rapid and dramatic changes of temperature, which would have occurred within the chimney, have caused any damage and also to determine the need for any remedial measures. It is imperative that the chimney is not used prior to inspection.

How to find your local chimney sweep

It’s easy to find a registered chimney sweep – there are a number of associations where you can search for a chimney sweep:

In addition HETAS also lists Registered Installers through its Competent Person Scheme.

For further information on chimney safety, you can visit the association websites –  /