Spruce up your chim­ney

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD PROJECTS -

CHIM­NEYS are prob­a­bly the part of our home most as­so­ci­ated with Christ­mas, but they also tend to be ne­glected.

Tra­di­tional chim­neys and fire­places are sel­dom, if ever, built any more. Mod­ern technology and our sen­si­tiv­i­ties around the en­vi­ron­ment have led to the devel­op­ment of al­ter­na­tive heat­ing meth­ods.

How­ever, those old coal burn­ers, if be­ing used, need to be ser­viced. Chim­neys should be cleaned reg­u­larly, to re­move a build-up of soot and also to check for nests or swarms of bees. The lin­ing to the chim­ney flue should also be checked. Ini­tially, it would have been “parged” (plas­tered), and this lin­ing can break down over the years, caus­ing smoke to leach through the joints in the brick­work into the sur­round­ing rooms.

Metal flues should also be cleaned out, and the chim­ney cowl checked to en­sure that it is turn­ing smoothly in the wind, thus al­low­ing the chim­ney to draw prop­erly.

Prob­a­bly the most-used do­mes­tic chim­neys nowa­days are those as­so­ci­ated with braaing or cook­ing. The build-up of fat in these chim­neys is fright­en­ing, so en­sure you give the sur­faces a good scrape down to re­move fat be­fore some­thing catches alight.

Flues pass­ing through roofs should be iso­lated from sur­round­ing tim­bers by means of a fire­proof in­su­la­tion blan­ket, and all flues pass­ing through thatch should be fit­ted with a spark in­hibitor. The ex­trac­tor over your stove also acts as a chim­ney, so en­sure that you keep the fil­ter fab­ric clean and fat free. Dirty fil­ters are an­other com­mon cause of do­mes­tic fires.

Fi­nally, if you have a gas-fed fire­place, check that you are com­ply­ing with the reg­u­la­tions rel­e­vant to gas in­stal­la­tions. We will cover this in more depth next year, but in the in­terim have the sys­tem checked out, ob­tain the rel­e­vant “Cer­tifi­cate of Con­form­ity” and en­sure that your in­sur­ers are is­sued with a copy.

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