I wished to write an article highlighting to everybody some interesting points relating to the use of gas fire appliances in the home linked to a chimney flue, and the need to consider the sweeping of such. This is as a result of sweeping two chimneys in the last month that have been connected to an open brick built chimney for a significant number of years without having been swept.
Many people probably do not think that gas can create or leave a deposit in the chimney, but clearly they do albeit it is much different in texture and content than a solid fuel fire soot deposit. It’s much heavier, grey/sandy coloured and dusty.
Over my recent time sweeping I’ve been requested to sweep a number of brick built chimneys used by gas fires. In the main it is usually because of a problem identified when having the appliance serviced by a gas engineer which suggests that sweeping the flue may be necessary. It is worthwhile noting that a Chimney Sweep (unless Gas Safe registered) isn’t allowed to uninstall a gas appliance so the expectation is that the fire is removed prior to arrival, unless (as has happened on a few occasions) it is possible to sweep up through the appliance usually over the decorative effect stones.
I was called to an address recently after a heating engineer had put a fire out of use suspecting that the chimney may be blocked and had left the fire in situ. It was impossible to sweep upwards through the fire due to the restricted gap above the coals into the flue. The client called the heating company whilst I was there (on loud speaker) and the employee suggested the Chimney Sweep “lacked confidence” due to my being unable to pull the fire out of its surround. This would have been illegal for a Chimney Sweep to have carried out and demonstrated a lack of awareness and professionalism by the heating company concerned. I don’t like walking away from jobs but sometimes it’s a necessity from a legal and safety perspective with homeowners at the centre of my concerns.
An interesting point that is useful for us all to be mindful of is that some household insurance companies insist on a chimney being swept annually as part of the policy. This is regardless of whether it is connected to a solid fuel or a gas appliance which is why I was called to attend to a gas fire flue last summer in Parkstone. The occupiers are required to have it swept every year because of the insurance mandating it. You could honestly have eaten your dinner off of the walls of the flue it was that clean. So, it’s worthwhile checking the fine print in your policy document just in case this effects you. In the unfortunate event of a property fire it’s likely that one of the first questions asked by the insurer is when was the last time you had the chimney swept if you have an operational flue.
Don’t forget also that birds like to nest equally in chimneys used by gas fires as they do for open fires and wood burners. They don’t seem to be too fussy in the Spring when we’re not using these things so it’s worthwhile investing in a cowl for the chimney pot for peace of mind. The design for a gas fire cowl is different than for solid fuel so feel free to call me for any more info or to even purchase a cowl if you wish. I provide a fitting service also within the Poole/Bournemouth and immediate surrounding areas.
Also, a last gentle reminder about Carbon Monoxide alarms. One should be located in each room where there is an appliance, gas or solid fuel. I provide these as part of my sweeping services, or they are available on line or at DIY stores.