Tradition has it that chimney sweeps are a symbol of luck. Well, I’m not the normally the superstitious type but today I definitely think my chimney sweep let a little of his luck rub off onto me. He let me into a little secret or two about how to save money when having my chimney or wood-burning stove flue swept.
Many people fail to sweep their chimney or service appliances often enough. Either through neglect, not understanding the necessity or for financial reasons. So before i let the cat out the chimney, just in case you’re considering whether or not to bother having your chimney swept, let’s just look at why you should.
Four good reasons to get your chimney swept
To protect your health
Breathing in the fumes from fires can cause serious damage to your health and in the worse cases prove fatal. Regular chimney sweeping will help keep your flue clear and help ensure the dangerous fumes escape safely out of the chimney.
To prevent chimney fires
Having your chimney swept regularly significantly reduces the chance of having a chimney fire. Chimney fires can cause property damage ranging from a cracked chimney pot to much more serious losses.
To avoid smoke damage
Each time you light your fire, soot will accumulate in the chimney. Gradually, the sooty build-up will decrease the size of the flue which in turn, will lower the draw of the smoke upwards. If the chimney doesn’t have enough pull, the smoke will enter into the room, causing potential harm to you, but also blackening your fireplace and your decor.
To prolong the life of your chimney
Soot is corrosive. Having your chimney swept regularly will help reduce the amount of time the soot is in contact with the brickwork and thus slowdown corrosion.
How often to get your chimney swept
This depends on how often the fire is used and what you burn. A general guideline is:
- Smokeless coals: At least once a year
- Wood: Once a season when in use on open fires, twice a season for stoves
- Bitumous coal: Twice a year
- Oil: Once a year
- Gas: Once a year
And now to the bit you’ve been waiting for:
Money-saving tips from a ‘real-life’ Sweep
Get your chimney swept well before the burning season starts
You dont have to wait until the start of the burning season (October onwards) to have your chimney swept. Late autumn and winter are a chimney sweeps busiest times and they can and will charge a premium price for the job. But many offer discounts if you have your fireplace or flue swept earlier in the year. For example, my sweep offers a 15 per cent discount for bookings in July and August. I personally would opt for booking in August as the nesting season is over by then and it’s less likely that you’ll disturb any uninvited feathered friends lodging in your chimney.
Organise a neighbourhood sweep
If you can team up with three or more neighbours in your street and arrange a time when you can all have your chimneys swept one after the other, it’s highly likely that your chimney sweep will offer you a good discount. By linking up with neighbours your sweep is going to save his or her driving time and telephone calls to book appointments – savings that they will usually be happy to pass on to you. Try it out! If you dont ask, you dont get!
He also gave me one final money-saving tip:
Consider adding smokeless coal to your wood fire for greater efficiency
Smokeless coal is a solid fuel that produces no smoke when burned. This makes it well suited for burning in Smoke Control Areas such as in large parts of the Midlands, North West, South Yorkshire and North East of England. Smokeless coal will never be as environmentally sustainable as wood, but when added to your wood fire it can help it burn hotter for longer, meaning you spend less time and money re-fuelling the fire.
Image: Neil Hester, creative commons on flickr