Cleaner Chimneys
Cleaner Air

Clean chimneys burn more efficiently,
which will save you money,
as well as helping to preserve the environment

Find out how to make a difference


Find an ICS Member

SWEEP     STOVE FITTER 




    Defra Guidelines on Air quality

    Using cleaner fuels for domestic burning

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    Burn Right

    Learn how to best to use your fire and help air pollution

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    British Federation of Chimney Sweeps

    ICS is a contributing member of the FBCS

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    Membership

    How to Become an ICS Member

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    Why Sweep Your Chimney

    Regular sweeping is vital to remove blockages and soot. This prevents fires and allows deadly combustion gases to be safely vented through the chimney. Clean chimneys burn more efficiently, which will save you money, as well as helping to preserve the environment.

    How Often Should I Sweep My Chimney?

    Smokless Coals: Once a year
    Wood: Twice a year when in use
    Bitumous Coal: Twice a year
    Oil: Once a year
    Gas: Once a year
    Thatched Roofs: Twice a year

    Why Choose an ICS Sweep?

    If you hire an ICS Sweep, you can be confident that you will receive a professional, courteous and conscientious service from a rigorously trained person, with the back-up of a professional body.

    About the Ics

    The ICS is a trade association for Chimney Sweeps and Installers. It was established in order to provide the industry with a benchmark for quality and safety.

    All of our members receive ongoing training to the highest standard in all aspects of flues and appliances. Many offer repair work, regular sweeping as well as installations.

    Our Sweeps can call upon the support of an internationally recognised trade association, and by selecting one of our members you can rest assure your home or business chimney will work efficiently, while lowering the risk of fire. When an ICS member has swept and smoke draw tested your chimney you will be issued with a Chimney Sweeping Certificate, which is a necessary compliance for your house insurance.

    Our membership extends throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. All of our members have Public Liability Insurance and can provide references, upon request. Customers wishing to locate a chimney sweep in their local area can be confident that we are experts in our profession, providing an excellent standard of service.

    Cleaner Chimneys Cleaner Air

    The Do’s and Don’ts to help you save money and preseve the environment.

    Only burn smokeless fuel or properly seasoned wood with a moisture content below 20%. Wood should be burnt with as less moisture as possible, current thinking is that should be 20% or below, some place only burn wood with a moisture content 16% or below.

    Do not burn wood on an open fire in a smoke free zone. It is illegal to burn wood on open fires in smoke free zones, as there is no way of preventing smoke emitting from the flue, Local Authorities can prosecute households.

    Do not burn fence posts, painted off cuts, or varnished wood, burning these materials will pollute the atmosphere. The chemicals in the wood when burnt will be inhaled and lead to long term health issues.

    Never burn House coal, House Coal emits pollutants and dark soot, which lead to smog.

    Do not slumber your stove overnight, slumbering reduces the air feeding the fire, in turn this creates smoke as the fire struggles to breathe, it is perhaps the worst thing you can do to your stove.

    Use a stove thermonitor, using a thermomitor will allow you to burn at the right tempature, burning between these levels will be both fuel and cost efficient saving you money in the long run.

    Never over load your stove with logs, over loading will result in over burning. Over burning in an effort to gain more heat will only damage the baffle plate, which will require replacing at some point. It may even result in damaging the flue system.

    Maintain your appliance, and flue. As noted, for the long term reliability and efficiency of your stove and flue always maintain the system think of it as an annual MOT or checking your car before a long journey.

    Only use a properly qualified person to install your appliance. It is vitally important that you use a properly qualified installer, installing a stove is relatively simple, however, there are many pitfalls and elements that must be taken, they are not always obvious and therefore only an experienced installer. Always ask for a certificate of qualification, recommendations and before you part with any money ask for the data plate and a guarantee.

    Health and Safety

    Chimney fires can quickly spread to your home or business place, putting property, livelihoods, and loved ones in danger. House fires often cause serious damage to the masonry and brickwork, leaving you with an expensive repair bill. All chimneys need to be swept at least once a year, although if the chimney is used often we recommend twice a year. If you use solid fuel burning appliance you should have your chimney swept at least once a year, preferably before each winter as birds often use chimneys as nesting spots.

    Falling stonework, rubble, spider webs and leafs can block chimneys and stop or reduce the flow of air. These all combined block previously working chimneys; any blockage can alter the combustion balance or cause carbon monoxide to enter the home instead of being safely vented from the property.

    Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer: it is colourless, tasteless and does not smell. Even low levels of Carbon Monoxide can lead to permanent ill-health or death, especially in children. The early symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning can easily be mistaken for 'flu. They include nausea, headaches, tiredness, dizziness and pains in the stomach or chest. Look out for sooting or staining around your appliance: it is a sign of inadequate venting of gases.

    It is vital that appliances are properly installed as well as serviced, and are sufficiently ventilated. We also strongly recommend the installation of a carbon monoxide detector in your home, which is also required under Building regulations for new installations.

    Chimney Sweep Best Practices

    What your Chimney Sweep should be doing.

    If you have a regular Chimney Sweep you may sometimes wonder whether he or she is doing a good job. The nature of the work means it is often difficult to know what is actually going on up there.

    This is a guide to some of the basic principles your Chimney Sweep should take in order to protect your home from falling soot and clean the flue to a good standard ensuring there is no obstacles.

    The sweep from start to finish should take between 45 minutes and 1 hour as a minimum, anything less than that may meen corners are being cut and the sweep is not complete.

    Sheeting up takes around 15minutes maybe longer depending on the circumstances, your sweep must take precautions to protect your home, which means floor sheets and runners from the front door to the fires location, and sheeting to cover the stove or the fire opening. This will prevent any soot escaping from any kind of accidental spillages or falling soot.

    The vacuum used must be an industrial type with HEPA filter, “Do not except a Henri Vacuum” or any domestic vacuum type, as good as they are, they are not capable of doing the job Chimney Sweeps need to do. This will ensure the Sweeps contain 99% of the microscopic particles entering the vacuum drum. Otherwise with a none industrial vacuum without a HEPA filter those particles will circulate in your home and you will breath them in. Not only polluting the atmosphere but damaging your lungs and everyone in the house.

    Make sure the Sweep checks the brush can be seen exiting the Chimney Pot from street level, to be sure we advise you also confirm it has exited. This will ensure the Sweep has swept the full length of the fuel system. It does not ensure they have cleaned it sufficiently, and you should take note of the time spent sweeping.

    Once the sweep has swept and removed the brushes, a smoke draw test must be conducted. A Smoke Draw test with gage the amount of air flowing through the flue. A good draw will translate into a good working fire, as enough air will be flowing through the flue to feed the fire. An adequate draw will translate into an adequate working fire, and a poor draw will translate into a poor working fire.

    Please note the draw of your flue may be affected by elements outside of the Chimney Sweeps work, such as atmospheric conditions, which can affect the draw.

    So, given it takes around 15 minutes to sheet up 10-15 minutes sweeping, and clearing away, removing vacuum, and sheets etc. plus the time spent issuing a certificate anything less than 45 minutes is pushing the boundaries of inefficient sweep.

    FAQ's

    How much should a Chimney Sweep cost?

    The average cost of a Sweep will depend on your location, however, modern day sweeps are extremely professional, with up to date equipment, and insurance. A general sweep should last between 45 minutes and 1hour costing between £55 - £65, please note though a general sweep is usually for regular maintained flues.

    Does a Chimney Sweep leave a mess?

    Modern Chimney Sweeps are professional in nature using equipment designed to contain as much soot as possible, therefore you should expect minimal disruption and mess. However, soot is a very fine substance, expect 99% containment in normal circumstances for maintained flues.

    Should a Chimney Sweep use a Vacuum?

    All modern professional Sweeps use an Industrial type Vacuum for containment and clearing any debris. They should not use a vacuum to clean the flue in any circumstances.

    Do Chimney Cleaning Logs work?

    Chimney cleaning logs are only to be used in conjunction with a Chimney Sweep, they do not clear soot or creosol on their own.

    How often should I have my chimney swept?

    There are conflicting views on this, we believe you should consult your Chimney Sweep as it may depend on your usage. Other factors will impact, such as, your insurance company’s preference, or Thatched properties, but in general at least once a year as a minimum.

    Do I need my Oil/Gas flue swept?

    All flues require cleaning regardless of the fuel used, whilst they should not produce soot, they do clog up and present a danger to life and can produce Carbon Monoxide gases.

    How do I know the Chimney Sweep has swept the whole flue?

    Professional sweeps will always sweep the whole flue, however, you should ask to see the brush as it exits the chimney pot at roof level, this will ensure the whole flue has been swept.

    My flue appears to have a birds nest, can it be removed?

    Live nest are protected in law and must not be removed during the nesting period usually between February and August, however, the period may start earlier and extend past August.

    Which Wood Should I Burn?


    As Chimney Sweeps we often get asked “Which wood Should I burn in my Stove?”
    It’s not such a silly question all wood burns so on the face of it the answer should be any, obviously right?

    It would be fair to say that all wood burns, but some depending on the density burn at different speeds or slower than others this can be a benefit, however, it doesn’t always mean it’s good.

    Slow burning wood may also burn at a low temperature, and that might appear your stove isn’t drawing sufficiently. Faster burning woods as a general rule produces better heat output with a strong flame.

    Fast burning woods burn as it suggests at a fast rate, this will result in you burning more, whilst a noticeable difference in the heat output will benefit the home, but you will burn more wood with costs associated.

    So, as you can see the answer to the question is not so simple, for that reason we would recommend mixing both types. Listed below is a brief outline of the common types available.

    All wood should be seasoned for at least 24 months and never burn wood with a moisture content above 20%

    Preferably do not purchase wood in a plastic bag or from a gararge where wood is stored open to the elements.


    Apple: burns slowly, but with a good flame, and moderate heat output.

    Ash: fast burning with good heat output.

    Beech: burns in a similar fashion to Ash.

    Birch: burns quickly and produces a strong heat output

    Horse Chestnut: has a strong flame and good heat output

    Chestnut: A moderate fuel that produces a small flame and weak heat output.

    Oak: is a hard wood which burns very slowly with low moderate output.

    Cedar: good heat output burns well

    Sycamore: burns with a good flame, with moderate heat.

    Rowan: A good firewood that burns hot and slow.

    Plum: provides good heat with a nice aromatic sent.

    Pine: species generally: burns with a splendid flame, good heat output, but spit.

    Pear: burns with good heat, good scent and no spitting.

    Maple: A good all round firewood.

    Hawthorn: good firewood, burns hot and slow.