Open fires and wood burning stoves provide warmth in a home, but many homeowners are unaware that chimneys can become dangerous fire hazards. This can be a problem for properties with thatched roofs but can affect any home where there is an open fire or wood burning stove that is regularly used. Recently in Williton, Somerset, for example, firefighters were called out to prevent a chimney fire from spreading to the thatch on the roof of the house. Luckily, they were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to the roof.
An Increasing Problem
When you leave smouldering wood in a stove for long periods, chimneys may catch fire. Other causes of chimney fires include burning unseasoned wet wood, improper appliance sizing and even something as simple as infrequent chimney cleaning.
According to recent statistics, there are approximately 7,000 chimney fires annually in England. Despite the alarming numbers, fire services assure people that these incidents are preventable.
A Squeaky-Clean Chimney
To keep a chimney clean, it is essential to inspect and sweep it regularly. Networks of professional chimney sweeps, such as ChimneySweepUK, hire trained sweeps to clean out chimneys, reducing the fire risk in the home. The ideal time of the year to give a chimney a thorough clean is well before the winter months set in. Sweeps ensure that chimneys are free from debris and are in good working condition before the arrival of the colder months.
Chimney cleaning should be done regularly, depending on the kind of fuel you burn. Oil, gas and smokeless coal fireplaces only need to be cleaned annually, while chimneys that burn bituminous coal should be cleaned twice a year. Since wood is the material most likely to cause a chimney fire, chimneys that vent wood fires should be swept up to four times a year to keep them spotless.
It is easy to overlook the cleanliness of something that you cannot see. By taking preventative measures, however, you can prevent dangerous incidents from occurring.