When is that chimney to be swept?

The peppernuts are already in the shop and the first firewood has been ordered. Although officially it is still summer, many are secretly looking forward to autumn with that fireplace or cosy wood-burning stove. But how often does the chimney have to be swept?

Stoves fired with wood, coal or oil cause soot particles to enter the chimney and adhere to the walls. In addition, wet or rotten wood causes unburned particles that can build up to a layer of tar-like substance: the highly flammable creosote.

Creosote can also arise if the air supply to the stove is cut off and therefore less oxygen is added to the combustion. Every year about 2000 chimney fires take place in the Netherlands; recognisable by a roaring sound in the flue with flames and sparks coming out of the chimney on the outside.

Calling the fire brigade and closing the chimney valve is the motto. Above all, never extinguish the fire in the fireplace or stove with water, because the steam released can tear the chimney or even explode. The fire brigade therefore recommends always putting a bucket of sand or a kilo of salt nearby (the salt on the fire pushes the oxygen away).

It is much better to avoid such misery. If you burn regularly, it is best to have your chimney cleaned annually. Preferably by a chimney sweep member of the General Chimney Sweepers Patroons Bond (ASPB). Because the profession is not officially recognised, every bunny can work with a ragbag, which is why the fire brigade also advises to call in an ASPB company.

Anyone who has had the chimney sweep should keep the receipt (with the details of the chimney sweep, the date, the address where the work was carried out and the costs). Chimney fires are covered by the building insurance, but in the event of overdue maintenance the insurance expert may issue a negative opinion.

Another tip from the fire brigade: firing according to the reverse or Swiss method which ensures less deposit in the chimney. The principle consists of building a five-storey turret of increasingly thin blocks. Lighters are placed between the top two layers. In this way the fire is led from top to bottom and less harmful substances are released. When the blocks are no longer visibly glowing, the air supply can be closed.

When it gets really cold, fireplace lovers will be queuing up at the chimney sweep. While this work can also be done very well in spring or summer.