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Helpful Tips and FAQ’s

Saffron Walden Sweeps Helpful Tips and FAQ’s

Helpful Tips and FAQ’s

Posted By paddy

Helpful Tips
 Always try to burn well seasoned wood, that is wood with a moisture content of between 15 to 20% – Damp wood will not burn well and will lead to the build up of unwanted deposits of tar and creosote in the chimney.

When building a fire in your wood-burning stove, try to do it on a bed of ash – Place larger wood on the bottom with progressively smaller wood towards the top. Place kindling and fire-lighter on the top – Try to limit the amount of paper you use, not only will this smother the fire in its early stages, pieces of burning paper can fly up the chimney and ignite tar and creosote deposits potentially causing a chimney fire.

If the glass in the door of your wood-burning stove needs cleaning, simply wet some newspaper, dip it into the ash in the stove and then rub it on the glass. Then remove the excess with a dry piece of newspaper; you will be surprised at the results. Your glass will come up clean and sparkling, and this won’t damage the glass.

Always burn your wood-burning stove hot, this will help prevent harmful deposits forming in your chimney. A stove thermometer can help you achieve an optimum burn. However, if your room begins to become too hot, simply let the wood in the stove burn down before adding further fuel.

Never over-fire your stove or open fire, flames should never be allowed to travel up your chimney. Again this could potentially cause a chimney fire and could cause damage to your stove, for example, causing the baffle (throat plate) to buckle or even crack.

Periodically give your carbon monoxide alarm a press to ensure it is still working – This might just save a life.

FAQ’s

Why should I have my chimney swept?
Chimneys and flues require cleaning, because with use deposits such as tar and creosote build up within the chimney. Not only can these deposits block or reduce the efficiency of the chimney, they are also highly flammable and could cause a chimney fire. Should the Fire Brigade be called to a chimney fire and it is established that the home owner had not had the chimney swept or correctly maintained; the Local Authority could make them liable for the cost of Fire Brigade call-out. This could run into quite a few thousand pounds. It is also advisable to remove tar and creosote deposits from flues formed by stainless steel liners, as these deposits can mix with condensation within the flue to form an acid that can eat away the liner.
How often should I have my chimney swept?
It is recommended that chimneys should be swept at least once a year, to ensure the removal of harmful tar and creosote deposits. However, in the case of Thatched properties it is requirement of most insurance companies that the chimney be swept at least twice a year.
What do I need to do before my chimney is swept?
You need do very little; the appliance/fire itself will be cleaned during the sweeping process. It would however be helpful if any furniture, objects or ornaments close to the fireplace that might cause an obstruction or be vulnerable to damage be moved prior to the sweep arriving.
What is a Sweeping Certificate?
A Sweeping Certificate is a document issued to a customer by a reputable, qualified chimney sweep once a chimney has been swept. Such a Sweeping Certificate is recognised by insurance companies and provides documentary proof that a chimney has been correctly swept. Walden Sweeps Sweeping Certificates are endorsed by The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps. 
When should I have my chimney swept?
Probably the best time to have your chimney swept is during the summer months when you are not using it. During the summer chimney sweeps tend to be less busy, so you will be more likely to book a sweeping appointment at a time most convenient to you. The colder the weather gets and the further the winter advances, the busier chimney sweeps become, potentially making it more difficult to secure an appointment.
Do I need a Carbon Monoxide alarm?

Yes, it is now a mandatory Building Regulations requirement for all new solid fuel appliance/open fires. Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, odourless, poisonous gas given off during the combustion process. It is a fact that a significant number of people die in the UK each year as a direct result of carbon monoxide poisoning related to the burning of solid fuels. Not many people are aware that five times the amount of carbon monoxide is produced when burning solid fuel as compared with a gas appliance – See Carbon Monoxide Aware campaign website.

A carbon monoxide alarm detects the gas if it is present in a room and will beep to alert you of its presence. So a carbon monoxide alarm can actually save your life. With any new installation carbon monoxide alarms are now a mandatory requirement (Building Regulations – Document J). Alarms should be fitted between one to three metres from the appliance/open fire, 12“ from the ceiling and 6” from the nearest wall.

Walden Sweeps recommend the Fire Angel carbon monoxide alarm which is also endorsed by ‘Which’ magazine.

How can I look after my chimney?

There are a number of small things you can do to look after your chimney and that will help to prevent a chimney fire:

  • Ensure you have your chimney regularly swept within the recommended intervals.
  • Only burn seasoned wood, never burn damp wood as not only will this not burn well, but it will leave harmful deposits in your chimney.
  • Be careful what you burn, never burn rubbish, cardboard or large amounts of paper – I have even known customers burn children’s disposable nappies!
  • Make sure you only burn the fuels that are suitable/recommended for your appliance
  • Burn your fire/appliance hot and if need be build smaller fires, this will reduce the amount of harmful deposits created in the chimney.
Why when I light my appliance/fire does smoke comes back into the room?
There are a large number of reasons why this might be happening; without assessing the situation it is impossible to diagnose what might be causing the problem. For example the problem could be caused by: a cold exterior chimney, burning wet wood, down draughts, or stack effect. The solution therefore, would be to book Walden Sweeps to examine your chimney and identify the problem.
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