The winter is here at last, the nights are long and cold, the leaves are gone and so have the summer visiting birds. However its not so much the birds, but rather, what they left behind that concerns us. Nests pose a problem when we go to start using our fires again at this time of year, that’s why it is wise to sweep your flue both at the start of the heating season and again in the spring. They aren’t always as visible as this example in the photograph above. In the relatively brief sprung and summer months you would be surprised at how industrious they can be.
Gathering all sorts and stuffing it into your chimney. As you can see here in this photo there really can be quite a bit, especially if you haven’t used the flue in a rear or two. Perhaps you just moved in to the house in the summer and you haven’t had a chance to get the flue swept. Some of it falls down but some can just slide part the way down and cause a partial blockage and risk of chimney fire.
It is good practice to sweep your flue at the start of each season and every three months of use thereafter until the end of the season if burning wood or coal. If you use gas, oil or smokeless fuel you can get away with sweeping once a year. The important thing is to get it swept before you use it especially after summer. It is not only birds have an eye on your chimney. It is also a preferred spot for bees, wasps, bats and even rodents to make their home. Regular sweeping not only maintains your chimney keeping you and your household safe, but it also discourages these other seasonal residents taking up residence.
You can fit a bird guard to your chimney top, however the grilles on these can also pose a threat, one such case was a plastic bag that got drawn up a flue in the draft only to stop inside the birdcage and block off the flue, filing the room with carbon monoxide and smoke. If you have a cowl with a bird guard mesh in place, always request that it is removed and cleaned during sweeping to ensure good clear flow.
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