Author Archives: Paul

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National Bird Guard Week – 9th to 13th March

Category:Chimneys Tags : 

It is estimated that over a million birds die each year by getting trapped in chimneys. The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps says, “Sweeps find all sorts of dead birds in chimneys – owls, starlings, pigeons, jackdaws and sparrows are among the many species. We’ve even heard of a duck and the occasional bat!”. Unfortunately the problem of birds in chimneys includes old fireplaces that have been blocked off at the bottom but left open at the top – often birds will fly in and not be able to get out.

It is essential that the correct bird guard is fitted for your type of chimney, and you can contact us to receive expert advice on this matter. Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps technical director Steven Howard gives the following advice, “it is very important that the correct design of guard is fitted. Always use a professional chimney sweep or fireplace installer. They know what is safe to fit and how to fit it properly. Never use homemade devices and never push mesh into the top of a chimney, it can be dangerous.”

Preventing birds from making their nests in your chimney will also protect you from dangerous situations such as carbon monoxide entering your room due to the blockage, and chimney fires.

Support National Bird Guard Week and get in touch to chat about having a bird guard fitted on your chimney.

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Smoke Control Legislation

Category:Safety Tags : 

The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced to deal with the huge smog problems of the 50s and 60s. The Acts give local authorities the power to control emissions of smoke, grit, dust and fumes. One of the powers the Acts confer is the right to declare ‘smoke control areas’ in which emissions of smoke from domestic properties are banned.

These Acts together with associated Clean Air legislation were consolidated into the Clean Air Act 1993 which provide the current legislation.

You can contact your local authority to see if you live in a smoke control area. The maximum fine for emitting smoke in a control area is £1000 for each offence.

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Chimneys and your home insurance

Category:Chimneys Tags : 

Having an open fire, wood or multi fuel burner adds a lovely feature to your home, but you need to bear in mind your responsibilities when it comes to maintenance.


Your home insurance will cover you for chimney fires, however your insurer may refuse to pay out if you cannot prove that your chimney has been sufficiently maintained. So how often should you have your chimney swept? As a guide


Smokeless fuel: Once a year

Oil or Gas: Once a year

Wood: Quarterly (when in use)

Bituminous coal: Quarterly (when in use)


As an ICS Registered Chimney Sweep I can give you a Chimney Sweeping Certificate, which is a necessary compliance for your house insurance.

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Burning your Christmas Tree – is it safe?

Category:Safety Tags : 

Well Christmas is well and truly over, but how many of you still have your dead Christmas tree hanging about waiting to be disposed of? Perhaps you are thinking that burning it will be a lot easier than dragging it into the car and down to the tip? Unfortunately burning your Christmas tree is not such a good idea.

The needles and branches of fir trees contain substances which have a very high energy content, if you burn these in your fireplace or wood burner it could lead to a chimney fire. The trunk is not quite as risky, however you do need to dry this wood out completely in order for it to be safe to burn. For more details on drying your firewood read my blog

It is also worth bearing in mind that fir wood (also pine and spruce) creates a lot of creosote which can built up inside your chimney and cause fires

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Your Festive Fireplace

Category:Safety Tags : 

The image of a beautiful fireplace dressed for Christmas with boughs of holly and ivy and stockings hung with care is a well known Christmas staple, but are you aware that your seasonal decorations could be a fire risk! Here are some tips to help you stay safe over Christmas


  • Your Christmas tree should be at least 3 feet away from your fireplace.
  • Ensure your real tree is watered regularly to prevent it drying out and causing more fire risk
  • If you are placing candles on your mantle ensure they are always supervised and extinguished correctly
  • When dressing your mantle with greenery ensure the boughs do not drape in front of the opening
  • If hanging stockings ensure they do not block the opening and where possible use non-flammable materials
  • Use a fire guard to prevent sparks dropping on to your festive fireplace adornments

Yes the fireplace in this image is an accident waiting to happen!

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Keeping your fireplace safe for all the family

Category:Safety Tags : 

If you don’t have children then although fireplace safety is still and issue it is not as difficult as it is for those who do, but at Christmas little visitors are much more likely, so here are some tips to keep little ones safe around your fire


  1. Get a fire safety gate that you can put up when smaller family members visit.
  2. As Christmas presents get unwrapped do not burn the paper in the fireplace – coloured papers can release toxic fumes when burnt
  3. Don’t keep your Christmas gifts too close to the fire
  4. Make sure you take the time to carefully explain the dangers of the fire to little visitors

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How often should you have your chimney swept?

Category:Chimneys Tags : 

As the evenings start to draw in and the weather gets chillier a nice warm, cosy fire sounds really good, but if you haven’t had your chimney swept all through summer then you really need to get this done before you start your first fire of the season.


If you burn smoke-less fuel, then it will be fine to have your chimney swept once a year at this time. However if you burn wood or bituminous housed coal then we would advise having it swept twice a year, once at the beginning of the burning season and once at the end.


Remember to get it booked in good time, as this is our busiest time of year!

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Bin that Ash

Category:Safety Tags : 

How often do you clean out the ash? Once a week, once a month, once a season? Our advice is to remove the ash after each burning. Hot or cooling ash can be a fire and carbon monoxide hazard. Here are our tips for cleaning out your ash


  • Let ash cool for sufficient time after a fire and keep your stove door closed
  • Use appropriate equipment, including safety gloves
  • Use a galvanised steel or metal ash can or bucket that can be sealed to collect the ash
  • Take your time to avoid spreading ashes across the room
  • Carefully transport the container outside of your home
  • Dispose in a designated area
  • Do not collect ash in a bucket in your home for any period of time

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Where should I stack my wood?

Category:Wood Tags : 

Although it may be very attractive from an interior design point of view, the best place to stack your fire wood is not neatly piled up next to your stove. This can be very dangerous and there have been cases of the stacked firewood igniting!

In Oct 2018 a house fire occurred in Dorchester due to logs being stacked too close to the wood burner.

Your wood burner’s operating instructions should give a minimum distance for combustible materials, but we would advise at least 3 feet.

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DR21 Vent featured on Dragons Den

Category:Safety Tags : 

We were very excited to see fellow HETAS registered installer David Gattie featured on Dragon’s Den recently, although they were not successful their new vent solution is very innovative and has been approved by HETAS.


The DR21 Air Vent uses a labyrinth baffling system which regulates air slow. It ensures there is enough air flow for a stove to burn efficiently, but does not cause annoying drafts in your room. Unfortunately this side effect causes some people to block standard air vents, which is a real safety concern.


We wish David all the best with his new product and are hoping to use the DR21 Air Vent on a new installation soon.