Warning Notices & Red Cards – Why You Should NEVER ignore them

It’s one of the hardest parts of our job – issuing a Warning Notice. In the trade, it’s known as ‘red carding’.

Trust me, no sweep goes around wanting to give out bad news. But it’s the mark of a professional that they are prepared to have that tough conversation when, quite frankly, it’s easier to ignore.

Before we talk about why a Warning Notice may be issued, it’s important to understand why sweeps carry them in the first place.

Unlike sweeps of yesteryear, modern day sweeps are not simply there ‘to sweep the flue’.

These days, chimney sweeps carry out a number of tasks as part of a routine sweep. They include:

  • Inspecting the fireplace area to ensure it meets Approved Document J guidance
  • Checking the appliance and advising on any remedial works which may need to be carried out
  • Visually inspecting the lower part of the flue
  • Checking the chimney terminal to ensure it is legal
  • Advise on burning habits
  • Advise on the condition of the flue based on the sort of debris revealed as part of the sweeping process
  • Check for the presence of a Carbon Monoxide alarm and advise on its positioning
  • Check on any additional ventilation requirements
  • Undertaking a smoke evacuation check

So, as you can see, there’s much more to it than the stereotypical view of someone ‘just shoving a brush up’.

And it’s during these routine checks where a dangerous situation is uncovered, prompting the need to issue a Warning Notice.

A cracked flue collar meant this stove could not be used

The most common reason for this is because the appliance has been poorly installed, either by a builder, a DIY enthusiast or even a registered person/company.

Other times, a Warning Notice is issued because the installation has become dangerous due to modifications made after the original installation has been signed off, inappropriate usage of the appliance or just simple ageing/wear and tear.

Whatever the reason, it’s really important you heed the advice of your sweep. Please don’t think that you know best. We sweeps see installations every day, and we know a dangerous situation when we see one.

As I said at the beginning, it’s never great giving bad news. But I work on the basis that if I wouldn’t have it in my home, I certainly wouldn’t want it for my customers. 

Of course, if you’re not convinced, it’s easy to find a second opinion which chimes with your own view. But consider this; most sweeps are giving impartial advice purely for your benefit. Many will actually lose money by giving the advice (for instance, if they are unable to sweep the flue at all because of the hazards).

But they are prepared to do it – because it’s the right thing to do. 

Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service in Wigan, Stockport, St Helens, Ormskirk, Chorley and surrounding areas. Book Mr Soot online or call 07724 311 992.

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