AdviceChimney & fireplace

The chimney checklist – get your fireplace ready

Now’s the time to go over the chimney checklist and get your fireplace ready to cope with the cold nights ahead. While we don’t recommend tackling chimney sweeping or attempting to rectify any damage yourself, it’s important to prepare for the season by checking for any warning signs that may give you cause to call in a fireplace specialist. Once you’ve donned your inspector’s hat, it’s time for the finishing touches – planning ahead for the next fire.

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Chimney checklist

To properly inspect your chimney and fireplace, you’ll need to look both inside and outside. Check outside to see if your chimney looks sturdy. If it’s wonky or you spot any cracks or chips, arrange for repairs. Once you’re inside, look for cracks, chipping and loose bricks where the chimney re-enters your home (usually in the attic) and by the entrance to the fireplace itself.

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Next up, is checking to see if your fireplace is more Sooty than Sweep. Open the door at the base of the flue (normally outside or in your basement) and peer up, using a mirror to help you view those difficult areas. Look for soot buildup here and in the smoke chamber above the damper. If the damper’s difficult to open and close, chances are extra soot is getting in the way.

Image Source: This Old House

Last up is an old enemy – damp. Looking at your chimney and fireplace entrance from inside your home, can you spot any signs of damp? Stains or water can be caused by damaged flue liner or flashing – both of which need expert attention.

If you’ve spotted any warning signs that things aren’t as they should be, hire a chimney specialist to look it over. It’s all too easy to forget your chimney and fireplace until the cold sets in so if you haven’t had yours swept all year, I’d advise skipping the checks and calling in a specialist straight away. Tar buildup and blockages can lead to a chimney fire and that’s the last thing you want to deal with, especially so close to Christmas!

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Plan ahead

If you haven’t yet bought one, you’ll need a fireguard to protect yourself and especially children and animals from veering dangerously close to your lit fires. Make sure it’s sturdy and that both new or old fireguards aren’t broken. A damaged corner might not seem like a big deal but it’s easy to fall headfirst into one and injure yourself.

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Once your fireguard’s sorted, stock up on fuel. Many people tend to use their fireplace for additional heat but if you’re using it as a main heating source, this is especially important. You might think it goes without saying but it’s more common than you might think to find yourself needing to brave the arctic temperatures once fuel runs low. This winter, plan ahead and you won’t have to brave the chilly outdoors!

To find a chimney specialist to help you get ready for winter, post your job and up to three tradesmen will get in touch to quote. You’ll be able to view their profile pages, complete with ratings and previous customer recommendations, to help you decide who to hire.

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  1. Have never used fire in front room fireplace since moving into house but now wish to have either real or gas/real effect fire Told by previous occupant that it is currently an old gas connection and needs updating before use. No idea when chimney was last checked. Should I contact a gas engineer or chimney specialist.

  2. I have an old fireplace in my living room in an upstairs flat it’ss been took out plaster over but with a 8x8inch hope left in plaster with just a vent cover over it,chimneys not blocked at bottom or top the wind that comes through is crazy! Plus there’s black dust coming through, Is there anything I can do as my landlord says it’s fine

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