Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does my chimney really need sweeping?
A: Yes – and that’s not a sales pitch. Your own safety, and the welfare of your loved ones (especially children) is otherwise at risk. Chimney sweeping prevents soot and creosote building-up inside the chimney. Think about your chimney being clogged-up – how can poisonous gases, from the indoor fire below, escape? Sweeping greatly reduces dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, uncontrolled chimney fires, and problems such as falling soot and animal nests, which damage infrastructure.
A professional chimney sweep will inspect the chimney, give a thorough clean with his brushes and remove debris, not only soot and related dirty material, but also birds’ nests, cobwebs, leaves – with the aim to leave your chimney in fine, efficient working order. James the Sweep also does a smoke draw test for all sweeps – at no extra charge.
James the Sweep gives personal advice for all aspects of chimney maintenance. His professional opinion includes care of your stove or open fire, chimney, flue and liner (as appropriate) and ventilation. His aim is to ensure that your home or business premises will be energy efficient using safe practises in an environmentally friendly setting.
Q: How do I know if my chimney needs sweeping?
A. The short answer is that you don’t know – definitely – unless a chimney sweep inspects your set-up. Even so, there are telltale signs. If it’s been more than six months or a year (depending on the fuel used), it’s highly likely the chimney needs sweeping.
Also, look out for these signs:-
Soot specks found in the fireplace area
Visible evidence of tar deposits in the chimney, open fire or stove
Strong smells from the fireplace area
Problems with draught or smoke drawing properly in the chimney
The home has just been bought or rented and you don’t know when the chimney was last swept
Any signs of animals such as birds or squirrels (in the USA, it can be raccoons!) nesting in the chimney
Q: How often should my chimney be swept?
A. This is a common concern. It depends on the type of fuel used for your indoor fire but chimneys should be cleaned regularly, to deter risks of carbon monoxide poisoning or uncontrolled fires in the chimney.
As a general rule:-
Smokeless coals: At least once per year
Wood: Once per season when in use
Bituminous coal: Twice per year
Oil: Once per year
Gas: Once per year
Q: What areas does James the Sweep cover?
A. Please see our Services, Rates & Areas Covered page for a list of postcode areas that we cover.
Q: What are James the Sweep’s rates?
A. James the Sweep gives customers value for money. Rates charged are reviewed to ensure they meet industry standards. Special deals are offered at certain times of year and there are big discounts for projects, which involve multiple sweeps in the same location. It costs just £60 for a standard sweep for wood burning stoves and open fires. This competitive rate includes a full sweep but also a certificate for household insurance purposes, recognised by the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps. The £60 charge also includes a smoke test to ensure the chimney is in efficient working order. Remember that fresh dust sheets are used for each sweeping appointment. Contact James the Sweep for more details.
Q: How should I prepare for James the Sweep’s arrival?
A. James the Sweep will need space to clean your chimney properly. Please ensure the area in front of the fireplace is clear. Hot ash in the grate should be removed the night before James arrives (although dispose of hot ash safely). Move hearth furniture and companion sets – make the space easy to access. It’s also helpful if children or any vulnerable adults are not in the room when James is working, for safety’s sake. Be assured that James the Sweep uses fresh, clean dust sheets for each sweep appointment.
Q: Where is the soot disposed?
A. Soot was a priceless commodity to sweeps many years ago. Farmers would buy the product off sweeps, for their crop growing. James the Sweep will unbag the soot from the vacuum he uses, and he will take the debris away. Or – you may prefer to use the soot for growing veggies in the garden! Let James know when you meet him at the sweeping appointment.
Q: May I light the fire the night before James sweeps my chimney?
A. Yes, enjoy a fire in your stove or open fireplace. Yet please do remove all hot ash before James arrives. Note that any boilers, Agas and Rayburns must be turned off/out out at least 24 hours before the sweeping appointment. These appliances take a long time to cool down. For advice about your appliance, just contact James the Sweep for a professional opinion.
Q: Do gas fire-linked chimneys need sweeping?
A: Yes, definitely. There is a certain risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or danger from other gases, if gas fire-linked chimneys are not swept regularly. The risk is less than wood fires, but still needs to be taken very seriously. For professional advice about your gas fire and the frequency of sweeping, just ask James the Sweep.
Q: Birds are nesting in my chimney. Help!
A. The usual species of birds nesting in chimneys are starlings or jackdaws. These birds normally fly away in time. Nesting material can be discarded once they have left and a bird-guard installed to stop future nests. Birds’ nests can pose a hazard to your home by blocking the safe emission of carbon monoxide and causing damage to the infrastructure. So, if you suspect there’s a bird’s nest in your chimney, contact James the Sweep for sound advice. It’s better to get on top of the situation sooner, rather than later.
Q: Why is there smoke in the room hosting the indoor fire?
A. Smoke appears for various reasons. It could be due to draught issues with your fire set-up or inadequate ventilation. Cold chimneys, constructed on outside walls, need warming before use. Or there may be an air pressure zone near the chimney, which is affected by air blowing in a certain direction. It’s very important to know why smoke is in your room. If this happens, don’t delay – call James the Sweep now for advice. James will identify the issue after a site survey and present a cost-effective solution for any problems.
Q: Does James install wood fire stoves or open fires – or flue liners?
A. Yes – James the Sweep is a HETAS registered engineer and works alongside TLC Stoves & Liners, Kent’s premier installation company for indoor fire and chimney set-ups.
Q: What method of sweeping does James use?
A. For the actual sweeping, James the Sweep uses Rodtech Power Sweeping rods and brushes. This specially engineered equipment uses a combination of click heads and copolymer strands, which allows a wide scope in tackling both lined and unlined flues. By changing the drill’s speed, the brush turns either hard or soft, allowing for a thorough clean of the chimney flue.
Q: Will I see the brush coming out of the chimney?
A. That depends on how tall you are! It’s certainly a great moment when James the Sweep’s brush has travelled right up the chimney, cleaning every single nook and cranny, and leaving the flue in efficient order, greatly reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and uncontrolled chimney fires.
Q: What kind of mess will my room be in, once the job is done?
A. As clean as a whistle! There will be no mess or dust because James the Sweep uses fresh clean sheets for every single job and a vacuum device fit for the purpose. Please be reassured that sweeping your chimney will not affect the cleanliness of your home.
Q: What are James the Sweep’s qualifications, or membership of professional bodies?
A. James the Sweep is a member of the Guild of Master Sweeps and a HETAS registered engineer. He acts as a mentor to other sweeps in the trade and regularly attends training events with the Guild and related bodies (e.g. Rodtech) to ensure that he’s kept informed about the latest best practice in the chimney sweeping industry.
Q: Is this spelling correct, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous’?
A. Um diddle diddle, diddle um!