There's a couple of things that homeowners dread, one is a burglary and the other is a fire. Both can have devastating, life changing effects on the people living there and both can be prevented by taking certain steps. However, you can never fully protect your home from being burgled, no matter how careful you are, but you can eliminate the chances of a chimney fire from ever starting in the first place.
The monetary value of your home is irrelevant, after all, your home is invaluable to you, regardless of how much it's worth. However, many properties in the St Albans area are extremely expensive and sometimes of significant historical value to the wider community, so you'll want to do everything you can to avoid any damage occurring.
This article could be very short, as the best way of preventing a chimney fire, is to have your chimney swept on a regular basis. If the chimney is kept clean, it will not catch fire. So, keep your chimney as clean as you possibly can. However, there are a few other things you can do to keep you, your family and your home in St Albans safe from chimney fires.
Clearly you will need to ensure your chimney is swept regularly, that's a given. However, depending upon what fuel you burn, you may need it swept even more regularly. Although green wood should never be burnt, it occasionally it is and this will cause a huge amount of flammable creosote to accumulate in your chimney in a very short space of time. Green wood is essentially freshly cut wood that still has a high moisture content. The fresher the wood, the higher the amount of water contained in the wood and the more smoke and creosote produced.
Another must is for every home to have a working smoke alarm fitted. Householders should regularly test their smoke alarms to ensure they are working effectively. Remember that a chimney fire can start even after the main fire or stove has gone out or died down. The last thing you want is to be snuggled up in bed when it starts without a working smoke alarm, they literally are life savers! If the worst should happen, a smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape a house fire.
This is a misconception! Many people think about the open fire or solid fuel stove that their great granny had when they were kids. They wrongly think that chimneys are a mere relic of a bygone age, but this is certainly not the case.
It is true that many people replaced their open fires and solid fuel stoves with gas central heating systems, but there is a growing trend that is seeing the open fire and solid fuel stove returning. Maybe this is down to the desire of some householders to have their own piece of cottage chic, whereas others want a controllable, cheaper method of heating and maybe cooking. When you consider to eye watering cost of natural gas and the projected rise that is still to come, it is little wonder that so many are opting for a return to a tried and tested system that requires a chimney.
As well as a well maintained and regularly swept chimney, two other things can be done to help prevent chimney and other fires in the home.
Make certain that any embers are properly put out before you go to bed at night. You wouldn't leave a candle burning when you retire upstairs, so why leave a fire or stove burning? Embers can fall or be carried in the air and set furnishings alight, so make sure they are properly extinguished before bed.
Using an approved fireguard can also be a very good way of preventing unwanted fires. They can protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
Statistics show that there are approximately 7,000 chimney fires a year in England, but the scariest thing about this is that most of these fires are preventable.
Our countries firefighters deal with many chimney fires every year. Most of these chimney fires are preventable. Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help prevent fires within chimneys, it really is as simple as that.
How often a chimney should be cleaned is not a schedule that is set in stone, it just depends on what fuel you use and how often you use it.
For example, with moderate use, an oil, smokeless coal or gas fuelled fire would mean the chimney would most likely require cleaning once every year.
Should you still be using Bituminous coal, you would be looking to have your chimney swept at least twice a year.
Using wood as a fuel will mean you should be having a chimney sweep call up to four times a year. Clearly this would be more if the wood being burnt had not been correctly seasoned.
There are some common causes of chimney fires, and the following is by no means an exhaustive list. Burning unseasoned wet or green wood is a major cause because it builds up flammable creosote in the chimney much quicker than properly seasoned wood.
Infrequent or insufficient sweeping and cleaning of the chimney is another major cause of chimney fires too.
Overnight burning of fuels or leaving smouldering wood for long periods of time in wood stoves will also increase the chances of a chimney fire.
Fire safety experts in St Albans told us that the amount of rubbish some people put in their fires and solid fuel stoves is a major cause for concern. Not only can these added extras to the fire cause chimney fires, they can also fill the atmosphere with choking carcinogenic pollution. They reported the discovery of everything from excess junk mail to old foam backed carpet being burnt. Simply because you have a fire, doesn't mean that you should be disposing of all your waste in it. Stick to the correct fuel and match it to the correct stove.
Inspecting and cleaning the chimney is something that must become a part of your routine, as the roar of a chimney fire is not something anyone wants to hear. It's loud, hot, and very scary.
Chimneys must be swept on a regular basis this can be as much as three times in the burning season, which is obviously during the winter months, but at least once per season regardless of fuel type.
All wood burned must have a moisture content of between fifteen to twenty percent. Ideally, the lower end of the scale would be better.
It is important to invest in the correct size appliance for your room, an appliance which is too large will never get hot enough to burn all of the fuel within the wood and unburned fuel will pass up the chimney as smoke and condense within the flue as extremely flammable creosote, increasing the risk of chimney fires.
Once the fuel inside the solid fuel stove has been lit and the flue has been heated to its operating temperature, the stoves air supply should be adjusted to limit the amount of air to avoid over firing and excessive heat loss up the chimney. They should, however, be open enough to maintain moderate combustion in the fire box. This all sounds rather technical, but as long as the flames fill the entire window or fire box without being sucked up the chimney, then everything is operating as it should.
To determine if this is maintained the condition of the fire should be checked through any glass panels and the density of the smoke as it exits the flue at the top should also be checked.
An internal probe type thermometer located within the flue can be used to make certain that the flue temperatures are of a sufficient temperature, or if they are excessive.
Remember to keep that green wood away from your fire until the moisture content is below twenty percent.
All chimneys and flues should be cleaned and checked during the summer months to make absolutely certain that they are free from debris. Remember, birds and squirrels may have nested there while you weren't using your fire or solid fuel stove. When these critters leave, they don't clean up after themselves, leaving a potentially life-threatening blockage up your chimney. Leaves and twigs and possibly moss could also be present and prevent your chimney from being in full working order when those cold winter nights set it. A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, so it's very important to employ a professional qualified chimney sweep who can keep you and your family safe.
Ansell Chimneys service St Albans as well as the rest of the county. They are professional, thorough, clean and reliable. They also recommend setting up a regular maintenance booking so that you are never left sitting in the cold, or risking using a fire or solid fuel stove that is unsafe.
If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 01923 661 614, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
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t. 01923 661 614
m. 07941 282 325
m. 07976 318 160