Feeling cosy with a real fire
As the chilly winter nights continue, many people welcome the chance to get a real fire burning in their homes. The sight, smell and warmth of logs crackling in the hearth appeals to our most primeval instincts, but there are risks associated with having a real fire, and your insurer will need to know that you have your chimney swept on a regular basis.
Why are coal and log fires such a risk?
Burning organic matter like coal and wood causes a build-up of ash and creosote deposits in the chimney. If left untreated these accumulations of soot and tar will constrict the size of the flue, which in turn lowers the draw of the smoke up through the chimney. You may notice your room becoming smokier, the fireplace becoming blackened and furnishings getting grubby as the downdraught smoke tarnishes the objects in the room.
The sooty deposits inside the chimney will warm up whenever there is a fire burning, and can eventually ignite, causing flames to appear from the chimney pot. Chimney fires can damage your chimney and crack or break the chimney pots, or in the worst case can spread to engulf other parts of the property and cause more widespread destruction.
More serious still is where the flue becomes blocked, so that carbon monoxide fumes from solid fuel fires cannot escape from the chimney and come back into the room. If these fumes are inhaled they can cause serious damage to your health, and can even kill.
The insurance implications of a real fire
Your insurance company will expect you to have your chimney swept regularly. This means at least annually for a coal fire and more frequently for wood burning stoves or bituminous coal. You should also notify your insurance company if you’re installing a real fire for the first time, because you’re adding to the fire risk of your property, which may in turn alter your policy, and you might not be covered for it.
You are strongly advised to use a professional chimney sweep. The NACS is the registered professional body for chimney sweeps and will provide you with a sweeping certificate which you will need for your insurance company in the event of a claim.
Scrutton Bland Insurance Brokers Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority