Not everything gets burnt when you have a fire and the unburnt debris can build up in the chimney or flue and catch fire again later. During the summer, when chimneys aren't used much, they can also become home to birds' nests, cobwebs or other material that helps chimney fires start. Birds' nests, loose brickwork and other debris can also block the flue which means smoke and deadly carbon monoxide gas, released during burning, can seep back into the house and poison the occupants.
You should have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room with an appliance that burns carbon based fuel (i.e. one that fuel such as gas, oil, coal, wood or charcoal). Under new laws that came into effect in October 2015 landlords are required to fit carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms containing appliances that burns carbon based fuel.
More about carbon monoxide.
Sweep your chimney
If you have not used your open fire or wood burner for some time – for example since last winter - we recommend that you have you chimney and/or flue swept before you light it to avoid anything that has fallen into it over the last year catching fire. We also recommend that you have your chimney and/or flue swept regularly to prevent unburnt debris building up as these deposits in the chimney or flue can catch fire again later.
- Prevent your chimney or flue catching fire:
- Ensure chimneys and flues are swept regularly by a professional chimney sweep;
- Between “sweeps” keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained;
- Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers;
- Never store the fuel next to the appliance so sparks do not set it alight;
- Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house;
- Ensure good quality and appropriate fuel is used;
- Avoid blocking air vents or air bricks or otherwise interrupting the air supply;
- Avoid ‘slumbering’ an appliance (unless it has been tested as safe to do so). Slumber mode is when an appliance is purposely set at a low or minimum output normally for overnight burning to be revived in the morning without the need for relighting;
- Appliances that have been lined still require regular sweeping.