It seems that with every passing day more and more people are talking about abandoning their gas or electric heating and moving on to traditional wood stoves. And we can see the logic in that.
With the prices of gas and electric heat likely to skyrocket in the coming months due to recent world events, the prospect of paying just 10p/kWh for wood briquette heat certainly seems tempting. Wood fuel heat is also 100% carbon neutral, so this choice will actually benefit the environment, rather than hurt it. And modern Ecodesign-ready wood burners can now be bought for just £499.99, so the investment may very well pay for itself in just a couple of months for many people.
Seems almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Here’s the catch: all wood burners need constant maintenance. Without proper maintenance, they will become dangerous to use over time.
The most important part of wood burner maintenance is chimney sweeping. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about having your chimney swept.
Is Chimney Sweeping Necessary?
Chimney sweeping is important is because it removes the buildup of harmful compounds in your appliance’s flue.
The worst of these harmful compounds is creosote, a highly toxic substance that builds up whenever smoke interacts with moisture. The build-up of this material in your chimney liner can create serious fire and health hazards.
Burning well-dried, Defra-approved Ready to Burn firewood slows down this process considerably, but does not stop it completely. This is because even the most rigorously dried firewood contains at least 7% to 8% moisture (with figures around 15% to 19% being far more common).
How Often Do I Need to Sweep My Chimney?
According to this in-depth chimney sweep guide by Lekto Woodfuels, users of high-quality firewood only need to hire a chimney sweep once a year. Users of lower quality firewood may need to hire a chimney sweep as often as 3-4 times a year.
As basic chimney sweeping services cost between £50 and £90, buying cheap firewood starts to seem a lot less tempting.
How Long Will the Chimney Sweep Take to Do Their Job?
There is no one answer to this question. If you hire a qualified professional, have only one wood-burning appliance, and your chimney is in good shape, the job can be done in as little as 30 minutes.
If you have several burners or one of your burners requires repair, then the process can take up to four hours to do properly.
Where Can I Find a Licensed Chimney Sweep?
In the UK, chimney sweeps are licensed by organisations like HETAS. The organization has a helpful chimney sweep finder page. To find a chimney sweep near you, all you have to do is enter your postcode and choose a certified business near you.
You can expect a HETAS-licensed sweep to have specialised equipment for effective cleaning, industry sheets for protecting your room from dust and dirt, and a high-resolution endoscopic camera for documenting work results. At the end of the process, you can ask the sweep to show you before and after pictures.
When hiring a HETAS-certified chimney sweep, you can expect to pay between £70 and £90 for a basic sweep. Anything above and beyond that will cost extra.
How Can I Save on Hiring a Chimney Sweep?
Chimney sweeping isn’t a regulated profession, so pretty much anyone with the right basic equipment can do the job. If money is tight, you may hire a chimney sweep from your local classified ads. If you go this route, you can expect to pay as little as £50 for a basic sweeping of your flue.
Can I Sweep My Own Chimney?
Yes, there’s nothing stopping you from sweeping your own chimney. Chimney sweep rods cost between £20 and £100, whereas a chimney sweeping brush will cost you between £30 and £90. If you’re on an extremely tight budget, you may consider learning the trade and doing this yourself.