Any home that has an wood burning stove or an open fire that is regularly used in the home will need to have regular chimney sweepings to ensure it is safe and working at maximum efficiency. The question most stove owners will have is ‘how often does the chimney need sweeping?’. There is no set answer to this question as it very much depends on a handful of factors.
In terms of the frequency, the factors that you will have to bear in mind are how often you use the stove and what type of fire you have. Those who are using an oil or gas fire are in a position to simply have one annual professional cleaning of their chimney. This will clear away any debris, dust and soot that has collected throughout the year. However, if you have a wood burning stove or you are burning coal you will need to have your chimney more frequently cleaned. You will need to consider how much you use your fire to decide how often it needs cleaning, but it could vary from one to four times a year. The more you use your fire the more that soot and creosote builds up inside the flue. This build up in small amounts is relatively harmless but as soon as it gets past 1/8 of an inch you are putting yourself and your property in danger. It only takes one spark to ignite this build up and start a chimney fire that can quickly spread, potentially into the home itself and funneling toxic smoke throughout.
One of the best things you can do after having your chimney swept for the first time is to ask your chimney sweep for advice. They will be able to tell you what kind of condition your stove and chimney is in, what you can do to improve its efficiency and most importantly, how often you will need to have it swept. More often than not after assessing your chimney for the first time they will record how often they believe it needs sweeping and contact you closer to the time to remind you. You also shouldn’t worry if you haven’t been using it as much and feel that it may not need sweeping as the chimney sweep will always assess it first.
With this in mind, to ensure that you are getting professional and experienced advice you will want to make sure you only ever use registered chimney sweeps. Sweeping a chimney can be a dangerous job as it involves working with a lot of toxins that if inhaled can cause severe damage to the lungs. Also, if they feel the need to inspect the chimney from the roof they will need training and experience to carry this out in a safe and professional manner. To check if a chimney sweep is fully trained you can go online to the National Association of Chimney Sweeps and enter your postcode to find who is trained in your area.