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North West Sweep

Tel: 028 70 848663 / Mob: 07968 737 784

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Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get in relation to chimney sweeping and chimney related issues.  If you have problems or concerns about your chimney or flue, please don't hesitate to contact us for advice.

Q:  Will there be a mess?
A:  In a word, no. Modern and professional chimney sweeping is generally a very clean process where the fireplace or stove is completely sealed off using linen sheets. An industrial vacuum is then inserted behind the sheets to create a negative pressure so that no dust escapes into the room where the fireplace is situated.
Rods are inserted through a special 'elephants trunk' flap sewn into the linen sheets that seal off the fireplace and this further prevents dust and soot escaping into the room.

Q:  Why does my chimney smoke?
A:  There are different reasons why your chimney may smoke. Below is a list of the major causes. It may be that only one, or a combination of any of them could cause the smoke to blow back into your room.

1.  Blocked chimney


Solution - Having the chimney swept or use CCTV will either correct the problem or highlight where and what the blockage could be. We can then advise on what work will then be necessary.


2.  Cold air up the chimney


Solution - If a fire hasn't been lit for a while, the air up the chimney can get cold. Cold air is heavy and if the flue isn't heated quickly enough, the cold air will force the smoke back into the room. Initially, just burn newspaper as this will create a lot of heat quickly and will move the air upwards.


3.  Downdraught

Solution- Downdraught is a brief flow of air down the chimney resulting in puffs of smoke being pushed back into the room. One reason for downdraught is that the chimney stack has been built too short and another could be trees, buildings or other large high objects interfering with the wind flow. To help with this problem, a cowl can be fitted on to the pot. It is advisable to ask your chimney sweep which type of cowl to use as there are many different designs suited for different problems. If the incorrect cowl is fitted it may make the  problem worse.       


The image below is an example of what can cause a downdraft.  Tall buildings and other large objects can cause the same effect.


4.  Inadequate ventilation

Solution - All fires need air to make them burn properly. A lot of properties are very well insulated with double glazing etc. thus not allowing a flow of replacement air into the room. This can be solved by fitting air vents or simply leaving the door to the room open.


5.  The wrong type of cowl fitted on top of the pot

Solution - Many people are ill-advised as to the correct type of cowl to fit. Fitting the wrong type can either cause the problem or make it worse. Contact us as to whether you have the right cowl fitted


Q:  Why do I need my chimney swept?
A:   You need to have your chimney sewpt regularly for a number of reasons.


1.  To protect your health
Breathing in the fumes from gas or solid fuel fires can cause serious damage to your health and in the worse cases prove fatal. Having your chimney swept will make sure that the flue is sufficiently clear to allow the fumes to escape safely out of the chimney.


2.  To avoid a chimney fire
Having your chimney swept regularly will drastically reduce the chances of having a chimney fire. Chimney fires can cause property damage - the least usually being a cracked or broken chimney pot, which will need to be replaced and the worst being you could lose your home! Fortunately, the more extreme outcome does not happen very often, but it does happen.


3.  To avoid smoke damage
Each time the fire is used, soot will accumulate up the chimney. Gradually, this will decrease the size of the flue which, in turn, will lower the draw of the smoke upwards. If the chimney does not have enough pull, the smoke will enter into your room, not only causing irritation to you, but can also blacken your fireplace or the decorating above