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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why does my fire smoke back?

A: There are a number of reasons:

  • There could be a blockage or partial blockage in the chimney (bird, bird’s nest, even soot).
  • Sometimes, when out of use for long periods, chimneys become cold, even damp, reducing the updraft or creating a downdraft. Ventilation to the room may also be a contributing factor.
  • The size of the fireplace opening may be too large for the size of the flue, a much more common occurrence.
  • The terminal (pot) may be sited in a position where downdraft will occur.

Q: Do I need more air into the room?

A: Open fireplaces need plenty of oxygen to fuel the fire, but at the same time a greater amount of air is drawn over the fire into the chimney. Typically, a fire with a large opening requires nearly 300 cubic metres per hour, whereas a closed appliance (stove) may require only a fraction of that amount.

Q: Why Sweep Chimneys?

A: When burning wood, coal or oil the products of combustion pushes into the flue. Some of the smoke condenses and attaches itself to the flue wall. Over a period of time the build up of soot needs to be swept clean to reduce the risk of chimney fires. Nests, bird, wasp or bee, can prevent safe evacuation of the smoke, so can cobwebs or falling mortar from the chimney lining.

Q: Is sweeping the chimney messy?

A: The answer is no. Most fireplaces are screened by the chimney sweep and the chimney is then cleaned through the screen. A vacuum cleaner clears the fine dust and the heavier particles are kept behind the screen and cleaned after sweeping.

Q: Bits of mortar are falling down

A: It is an indication that the original liner (pargetting) is deteriorating. Once swept a visual inspection will determine whether the flue would require re-lining.

Q: Does my chimney require a cowl?

A: A well constructed chimney with a suitable pot will not necessarily need a cowl, however dependent on weather conditions and the siting of the pot, a cowl to prevent downdrafts may be needed. If there is a large population of birds in the area, a ‘high top’ bird guard may be fitted to stop nesting in the fire but still allow a brush to pass through the pot.

Q: How long does it take to sweep a chimney?

A: We normally allow 45 minutes to clean a fire, but this may depend on whether there are any difficulties. Our charge covers up to an hour, so if a chimney has a difficult bird’s nest to remove it may take longer.



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