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Sweep Your Chimney Before You Light It This Autumn

Chimney fires in England accounted for over 4,200 incidents dealt with by fire and rescue services between April 2016 and March 2017.

This year’s Chimney Fire Safety Week (3 – 9 September), part of the national fire safety campaign, calls for homeowners to get their chimneys swept before lighting them up this autumn by an approved sweep. This will both prevent damage to your chimney, and, in worse cases, prevent household fires.

To keep you and your family safe from fire you should make sure you have your chimney swept regularly, depending on what fuel you burn, before the colder months set in and you begin to use your fire again. To make the most of your wood burning stove, ensure you are using quality woodfuel, maintain your appliance and chimney regularly and check you are using your appliance in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. The HETAS website has a range of useful tips to help you get the best performance from your stove.

Our advice is

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
  • Have them swept every autumn before lighting them after the summer break
  • Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
  • Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed 

Chimney sweep Emily Skeet explains that sweeping is a quick and hassle-free process for homeowners: “People wouldn’t think twice about getting their cars MOT’d, but home appliances often get neglected so I keep in regular contact with clients to remind them which they really appreciate. It might not be on the top of everyone’s to-do lists, but you really can’t afford to risk leaving these things unattended.”

“There are a number of myths that needs to be dispelled about chimney sweeping. I think the first images to come into people’s minds are of small, soot-covered children, from ‘Mary Poppins’. Today, it’s a very different reality.”

Emily, who runs her own sweeping business, carries out up to six sweeps a day. She adds: “A normal sweep will take me about an hour and a half as I like to have a good chat with the client about their appliance. Contrary to what many people may think, I don’t make a mess. I use modern methods and tools such as a power-sweeping, CCTV and vacuums to ensure minimal disturbance for the homeowner. I’ve had a few cases where customers move all of their furniture out of the room, which really isn’t necessary!”

How often should you have your chimney swept?

Smokeless coals

At least once a year


Up to four times a year

Bituminous coal

Twice a year


Once a year


Once a year

For more information on maintaining your chimney and how can help with fire prevention, please visit: the chimney safety week page and our chimney safety page.