Fact Sheet 3

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Why is there smoke coming back into the room?

Sometimes this happens when you light the fire for the first time. In the summer, the chimney can cool as does the air inside it. This can cause smoke to become trapped and blow back into the room. This should stop once the chimney has warmed up. If your fireplace only smokes when it’s windy, fitting a cowl may be a solution.

Why does cold air sometimes come down my chimney?

This usually only happens in summer when the chimney stack cools. Cold air in the chimney falls and pulls the air from outside into the chimney, this can create a reverse flow. If you are not using the fire you can block the throat. Warming the flue can also alleviate this problem.

Why do lumps of cement fall down my chimney?

Sometimes in older chimneys pockets form that fill with soot and break free, falling down the chimney. This should be a rare occurrence, if it happens regularly then you need to have your chimney examined.

What do I do if a bird comes down my chimney?

Birds can make a lot of mess if they come down a chimney. We advise that, apart from removing the bird, you do not touch anything else and phone your insurance company immediately. We advise that you shut the doors to the room and do not try to clean the mess unless you are a professional. Some insurers will refuse claims unless that you provide certification showing you have kept your chimney swept and well maintained.

Can I stop birds coming down the chimney?

You can fit a bird guard that is designed for the purpose, and one that is fitted with a band around the chimney pot. Avoid small mesh domes as they can become clogged and cause the fireplace to smoke. Do not use hooded pot inserts as they are also banned by the Building Regulations and British Standards. A good bird guard, properly fitted, will withstand sweeping.

Why are some of the bricks at the top of my chimney loose?

The acid formed in the flue gases attacks the cement between the bricks, leaving them loose, sometimes so loose that when the brush touches them, they move. This is not always detectable from the ground, and it is the householder’s responsibility to maintain the chimney in a fit to be swept condition.

If my chimney pots are in poor condition what should I do?

Pots can become cracked over time, especially if exposed to rapid changes in temp, either through frost or more likely because there has been a chimney fire. Even a small, short lasting fire that is unnoticed by the householder can be enough to crack a chimney pot. If the chimney pots are in poor condition normal sweeping can cause them to break apart. Your sweep can advise you what remedial action should be taken.