Want to check your chimney is ‘safe’? Then you need this…

Putting an old chimney back into use is an exciting idea. But before you can do that, there are certain things you MUST do.

Flues by their very nature are in a constant state of deterioration. The extent of that depends on a number of things, such as the age of the flue, what it has been used for, how often it has been used, the type of fuel burnt on it and also whether it has been ‘modified’ in any way.

There are various reasons why you may want have the chimney checked. Such as if:

  • You’ve bought a property and want to check the fireplace is ok
  • You’re opening up an old chimney breast and like the idea of an open coal fire
  • You’re got a fire but you can smell smoke upstairs or your neighbours say smoke fumes are going into their property
  • You’ve had, or suspect you’ve had, a chimney fire
  • You just want some peace of mind
Opening up a chimney breast

The way to check whether a flue still has sufficient integrity is to have the chimney swept and then have your professional chimney sweep conduct a Chimney Integrity Pressure Test.

This means putting the chimney under a certain amount of pressure and checking the leakage rate. If it falls under the acceptable rate, it can be used to burn solid fuel, gas or oil. If it exceeds the acceptable rate, then you have no option but to line the chimney (or reline it if a liner already exists). The whole process is governed by Building Regulations guidance, as it is recognised that simply installing a combustion appliance in a flue without it being checked is highly dangerous.

There are a couple of ways the test can be carried out. These days, some professional sweeps may use a pressure testing machine to carry out a test. Sometimes, a traditional ‘Type 1’ smoke test is more efficient and revealing. It all depends on the type of building really. The results are known reasonably soon afterwards and, depending on what that result is, you can then plan your next step.

Please be aware though that, much like an MOT, a flue integrity test is just a snapshot of the flue at that particular time. All flues can and do fail eventually, so a test is no guarantee of longevity.

However, if you want to put a current flue back into use as it is, or check whether a flue you’ve been using is still intact, then an integrity test is an absolute must…

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 flue pressure testing service. Book your appointment below

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