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Chimney fires - what to do next

Updated: Jan 2

If you have ever had a chimney fire you can understand that it can be a really scary experience.

The worst instances have lead to people losing their homes. However, many chimney fires are just confined to the chimney itself without any loss of life or property.


Once the fire service have left and the heat and flames have disappeared, there are things you will need to do before you use the flue again. Some people think it ‘only needs a sweep’ before it is ready to be used again.


This is not the necessarily the case.


You will need to consider what damage the fire has caused to the chimney. Chimney fires can reach up to 1200c which is significantly increased from the normal heat generated from your stove or open fire. Once it reaches those sorts of temperatures, there is a high chance that the heat has caused some sort of damage to your chimney.


There are different types of chimneys and this will determine what the next course of action will be.


Brick built chimneys

We would suggest that you have your chimney pressure tested to confirm whether the existing structure is still suitable to use.

If the pressure test fails then your chimney may require re-lining prior to being used again.


Lined chimneys

If your chimney is lined with a flexible flue liner then it will more than likely require replacing. The flue liners are rated to certain temperatures which the chimney fire will far exceed. This will then compromise the integrity of the existing flue liner.


Reasons for chimney fires...


Common causes for chimney fires include (but are not limited to):

  • Incorrect appliance sizing - often people think the bigger the appliance the better. This is not always true, if you have a smaller room and you install a larger capacity stove, it stands to reason that it will become unbearably hot in the room. The appliance will then not get used or used incorrectly

  • Burning 'wet wood' - 'wet wood' will not burn well on a fire. A fire will need to use more of its energy to burn off the excess moisture within the wood before the firewood can be properly combusted. When wet wood is burnt it can lead to short-term issues such as struggling fires and more smoke being produced, as well as longer term issues such as increased creosote build up within chimneys

  • Infrequent sweeping or cleaning - if the byproducts of a fire are not cleaned from the inside of the chimney regularly, then this can lead to them building up and in turn pose a fire risk

  • Overnight burn or slumbering - Slumbering is the term for when a fire is burning at a low rate to keep it going by restricting the oxygen flow, for example, overnight. This can cause problems as the smoke and chemicals released condense and can block the flue potentially shortening the life of the stove and/or liner.


How to prevent a chimney fire


  • Get you chimney swept regularly - as a minimum annually, however this may be required more regularly depending on how often it is used and the stipulations of your home insurer

  • Use the correct fuel - if you are burning wood, please ensure the moisture content is no more than 17-18%. You can use a moisture reader if you are unsure

  • Listen to advice - the chimney sweep is not only there to clean your chimney, they also have lots of advice to get the best from your appliance

RJL Chimneys are Hetas registered chimney sweeps and also member of both The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps & Sweepsafe.


If you would like to make a booking please get in touch at info@rjlchimneys.co.uk or through our website www.rjlchimneys.co.uk

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