Spruce up your chimney
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.