Why It Is Vital to Have a Chimney Swept with a Wood Burning Stove?

The popularity of wood burning stoves has risen considerably in recent years, with many homeowners opting for these cosy and characterful heating systems over more conventional electric and gas fireplaces. However, while wood burners undoubtedly add charm and warmth to a home, they also require some essential maintenance to remain safe and efficient. One of the most vital aspects of wood burner care is having the chimney swept regularly by a professional chimney sweep.

Reduce Risk of Chimney Fire

One of the key reasons it is so important to have your chimney swept, or flue, if you have a fireplace without chimney when you have a wood burning stove is to reduce the risk of a chimney fire. Wood burners burn at higher temperatures than open fires, and the burning wood and hot gases released up the chimney can over time lead to a build up of soot and creosote on the inner walls, especially if damp or wet fuel has been used. This residue is highly flammable. 

If the chimney is not swept to clear this build up, it can potentially ignite and cause a dangerous chimney fire that could spread rapidly. Having a chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney at least once per year significantly lowers this fire risk.

Maintain Effective Draw for Stove

Another important reason for sweeping is to maintain an effective draft in the chimney, which enables the wood burning stove to ‘breathe’ properly and function as intended. Over time, chimney flues can become increasingly blocked with debris, bird nests, moss and other accumulations that restrict airflow. 

A blocked flue will prevent the smoke and gases from escaping up the chimney, causing problems such as billowing smoke coming back into the room when the stove door is opened. Having a sweep clear the blockage ensures the flue remains unobstructed and enables the stove to draw properly for clean, efficient burning.

Protect Health and Safety

It is also essential to have chimneys swept from a general health and safety perspective. Allowing excessive build up of soot and creosote is unwise, as some deposits could dislodge and fall into the stove or fireplace, causing risk of burns as well as mess. Sweeping removes dangerous accumulations and reduces risk. 

A chimney sweep will also check the structural integrity of the flue, identifying any issues such as cracking or leakage. Catching potential problems early enhances safety. Regular sweeping gives peace of mind that any risks are minimised.

Environmental Benefits

There are important environmental benefits to sweeping chimneys too. Keeping the flue clear optimises airflow and allows for cleaner, more efficient burning. This improves stove performance and reduces smoke and emissions released into the environment. Unburnt deposits in an unswept chimney will also eventually find their way into the atmosphere. A swept, sound chimney minimises this. 

There are also financial incentives – a well-maintained, effective stove uses less fuel over time.

How Often to Sweep

Most chimney sweeps recommend having your chimney swept at least once per year when using a wood burning stove regularly throughout the cooler months. In a fireplace without a chimney breast, the flue still needs sweeping to remove deposits.  

Following the standard yearly sweep schedule is sufficient for many. Consulting a chimney sweep on how often is best for your individual situation is recommended, as well as after any periods of prolonged disuse.