Chimney against blue sky


Check your chimney


When it’s cold outside there’s nothing nicer than getting cosy in front of a fireplace – but you shouldn’t relax until you’re confident your chimney is properly prepared.

Deposits of coal soot or wood tar can build up inside a chimney and heat from the fire can cause the deposits to catch light sending flames up the chimney. In these instances heat is emitted through the chimney walls and a devastating house fire can start quickly.

Flames and sparks can also leap from the chimney top or through cracks in the flue and ignite the roof or other parts of the house.

Wood burning or multi-fuel stoves, which reach high temperatures, can particularly increase the risk of fire with thatched properties, as they send more live sparks and embers out of the chimney.

Ross Garner, Home Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “We’d urge anyone with a multi-fuel stove, woodburner or open fire to ensure their chimneys and flues are kept clean, well maintained and swept on a regular basis by a professional chimney sweep.

“Many homeowners do not appreciate the costs of re-building a property, particularly if it is listed, so it is important that people check their buildings and contents are properly insured should a fire occur.”

Checklist to keep your home safe

  • Chimneys should be routinely checked or surveyed to ensure that they are structurally sound, well-maintained and able to cope with the demands of modern heating appliances
  • Your chimney should be swept by a professional chimney sweep at least twice a year if it is in use frequently or all year round
  • Your chimney lining (if you have one) should also be regularly inspected and renewed when needed, especially when the main fuel is wood, as tar deposits are highly combustible and corrosive. A qualified chimney sweep should be able to identify potential problems at an early stage
  • Only burn seasoned hardwood or materials according to manufacturer specifications
  • Fit a bird guard to deter birds from building nests in your chimney
  • Check the electrical system throughout your home
  • Speak to your local fire safety officer for further advice about fire prevention.