Wood burning fires are a classic and timeless part of any rustic home aesthetic but if they aren’t properly maintained they can become dangerous. There are three main reasons why you shouldn’t cut corners with your stove and chimney maintenance; firstly and most importantly protecting your health, protecting your home from smoke damage and finally preventing a chimney fire.

Most homes will have at least one smoke alarm fitted but what most people don’t know is that if you have at least one fuel burning appliance you should also have a carbon monoxide alarm. Known as the ‘silent killer’ Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas which can poison and kill you if inhaled. The build-up of this gas from a wood stove is usually caused by a blockage in the chimney which is why it is imperative to regularly check your chimney flue. The easiest way to do this is to open the damper and visually check for any foreign objects or broken bricks.

Another issue you may face is smoke damage to walls, ceilings and furnishings in your home. If your chimney flue is not regularly cleaned soot with start to build up. This will then make it difficult for the flue to draw the smoke from the stove and allow it to safely be extracted from your home. If this smoke does enter your home it will leave a layer of black soot on everything in the surrounding area.

Finally, one of the most dangerous incidents that can occur from a poorly maintained chimney is a chimney fire. The idea of a chimney fire springs to mind large flames, dark smoke and loud noises but this isn’t always the case which can make it even more life threatening. Often because the fire has started in the flue, it will burn slowly over a large period of time, damaging the walls and setting fire to anything in its path.

It doesn’t take long for this kind of fire to set fire to your walls and roof causing mass damage to your home and potentially surrounding properties. Thankfully it can be easily avoided with the correct maintenance of your chimney. There are simple checks you can do before calling in a professional, starting with checking to see if it’s dirty. A dirty chimney is the main cause of chimney fires as over time it gets clogged up with creosote, a substance produce by the burning of wood. Once this condensed in your chimney it leaves you at risk of a fire so it’s imperative that you check for build up each time you intend to start a fire.

Sooty and Sweeps offers chimney sweeping in London and Kent.