“Out of sight, out of mind” – it’s a well worn phrase and one which can very much apply to chimneys.
Because of their concealed nature, the only way to see what’s going on inside a flue is to undertake a CCTV inspection.
A standard sweep may reveal something is untoward, but not necessarily always.
So CCTV inspections, carried out by professional, qualified sweeps, are becoming more common.
And the results can be quite eye-opening.
This is because most flues have, at some stage, lay dormant for a number of years. During that time, this once-useful void may have been modified ways you wouldn’t expect.
For example, some flues were broken into by tradespeople or DIYers to run gas, water and electricity cables either down or through them.
Some may have ‘repaired’ them using wood, or inserted other combustible materials in them.
Some flues may have been blocked off altogether. In extreme cases, you can find that the flue stops in the bedroom area because fitted wardrobes have been placed in the upstairs chimney breast!
Other times, lazy roofers and builders have chucked bricks, tiles and other debris down the flue.
This is why I always STRONGLY recommend that, if you are bringing a chimney back into use, or suspect it has been lay dormant for a number of years, then a full CCTV Inspection is carried out.
Even if a flue hasn’t been modified, a CCTV inspection can help reveal structural issues such as missing bricks or large gaps in the mortar. After all, chimneys are subjected to massive amounts of wear and tear.
Attempting to use a chimney without checking what’s going on inside is a massive gamble.
When it comes to fire and carbon monoxide, it’s simply not worth it.
And don’t forget, because many chimney stacks in the UK are shared with a neighbouring property, it can also affect them.
So if you are having a fire fitted and are lining an existing chimney, or have bought a house and want to know the state of either the original chimney or the flue liner, a CCTV Inspection is a must.
Hopefully, it’ll be nice and clear and clean, just like the video below. This would be ready to be lined, or tested for leaks.
Whatever happens, a CCTV inspection will give you additional information to enable you to make the right decision for you and your family.
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a fully qualified sweep and a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps based in the Manchester and South Lancs area