Home Renovations: Why & When To Call In A Chimney Sweep

Renovating a home feels like an endless task. But whereas in the 1980s and 1990s when people would just block off a chimney without giving it a second thought, folk are now far more imaginative.

Nowadays we’re increasingly wondering what role a chimney can play in our home. And there are plenty of options as well.

A woodburner? An open fire? Maybe stripping it back completely to the original opening and using it as a decorative feature?

Whatever you decide, having it swept is an essential part of the process. And it’s important you do this before doing any sort of decorative work on the chimney breast/recess opening itself takes place.

Why Sweep A Chimney During A Home Renovation?

Chimneys can harbour soot, cobwebs, dead wildlife, nesting materials and all sorts of other bits and pieces which have found their way into the flue over the years.

It’s not uncommon to even find the odd hand tool, gloves or even loads of rubble chucked down the chimney.

Some of these can cause problems over time, even if the flue isn’t in use. Blocked chimneys can’t ‘breathe’ so start harbouring moisture.

This is bad for the structure of the flue – not to mention your lovely new plasterwork which it will possibly end up staining at some point!

Fellow chimney sweep Jonathan Miles, of Best Chimney Clean, down in Exeter did an excellent blog on some of the weird and wonderful things founds in chimneys – take a look https://www.bestchimneyclean.co.uk/strange-objects-in-chimneys/

And don’t forget that, when fireplaces fell out of fashion, some flues were used to house utilities pipework such as gas, water and electrical cabling.

If you’re wanting to reuse the flue again, these MUST be removed.

How Can A Sweep Help My Home Renovation Project?

A sweep will use specialist equipment to remove debris from the flue. Depending on how the process goes, they may wish to check the flue with a CCTV chimney camera. If you’re thinking of reusing the flue, then I’d say a camera inspection is essential.

Once these steps have been undertaken, a good sweep will be able to give you some advice on how to proceed.

Whether it’s closing the flue off in the right way or helping your decide on a solid fuel appliance for your chimney, a professional sweep is a gold mine of Information and it’s well worth picking their brains.

When Should I Call A Sweep In?

It’s always better to make an appointment before any major renovation works start – especially anything cosmetic on the chimney.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked to sweep a chimney which has just been freshly rendered in the opening/recess area, or the builder has put a totally inappropriate cowl on top of the chimney pot.

Take a picture of the fireplace area before you start and send it to your sweep – they can advise you.

There are other reasons for calling a sweep in early.

Firstly, in this ‘new normal’ Covid-19 world, an empty property will allow social distancing to be maintained.

And also the sweep’s findings may spark a change of plan. For instance you may be wanting a woodburner but the sweep finds something in a flue which may cause a delay or an increased pressure on your budget.

Unlike other trades, the waiting times for sweeps can be shorter, depending on the time of year.

So make that booking as soon as possible. That way, you’ll get the advice you need to help your home renovations go as smoothly as possible.

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. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.

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