Top tips for getting warm and toasty
At Zip, we take fire safety very seriously, and are often asked for advice on a number of ranging topics such as whether a chimney needs sweeping or how a fireguard should be used. To make it easier, we have collated our most frequently asked questions.
Q. How often should I have my chimney swept?
A. Frequency of sweeping can depend on a number of factors, we recommend the following:
- Chimneys: Once or twice a year
- Smokeless fuel open fires: Once a year
- Bituminous house coal open fires: Twice a year
- Wood burning stoves: Every 3 months during use
Many insurance companies now insist on proof of sweeping by a certified chimney sweep and it is also worth checking the details of your insurance policy to ensure you will be covered in the event of a claim.
Q. How can I prevent build up of creosote and tars in my chimney?
A. To help ensure that your chimney remains clean of all residues, use only dry wood and have your chimney swept on a regular basis. Using wet or damp wood or turf can lead to a build-up of creosote and tar, which needs to be removed as this kind of residue can cause chimney fires.
Q. Where should I store my fire starters and fuel?
A. Fire starters should be kept away from fire in a cool and dry place. Many fire makers store them next to the fire on the hearth for convenience but, this is a fire risk. We advise to keep your fire starters in a metal tin preferably in an outdoor shed, far away from children, pets and animals.
Wood, coal and peat should be stored in a dry place with good ventilation so that any dampness can quickly be evaporated to leave dry fuel. The wetter the fuel the harder it will be to light.
Q. What fuel is suitable for my stove?
A. Always be guided by your manufacturer’s recommendations.
Q. Do I need a good air supply?
A. For open fires the chimney should provide enough air to help ’draw the fire’. However, for closed appliances like wood burners and stoves, there needs to be an an adequate flow of air, to allow them to burn correctly. Ensure that your rooms with fires are well ventilated with fresh air. Sometimes a little draft from outside increases the performance of a fire and sometimes the wind direction moving over the chimney pot can aid air flow. However, fires are generally worse performing on windy days when the wind tends to blow down the chimney.
If you have double glazing or draft proofing, you might want to consider fitting an air duct to allow fresh air to enter your room.
Q. What precautions should I take to ensure that my fire does not produce harmful gasses?
A. To prevent harmful gasses being produced by your fire, enough oxygen must be supplied to burn your fuels completely. To do this:
- Ensure all chimneys are cleaned regularly and are kept clear of any obstructions.
- Make sure stoves and appliances are professionally installed and that the doors are sealed properly.
- Never block vents or air bricks.
Q. How often do I need to remove the ash from my fire?
A. A build-up of ash may damage your appliance, so it is important that you remove any ash before each new fire. Allow the ash to cool before cleaning out (ideally overnight). If the ash is from wood logs then it would be possible to use it in your garden as a form of fertilizer. It contains 13 essential nutrients for good plant growth. It also helps to maintain a neutral soil condition.
Q. When should I use a fireguard?
A. Zip recommends using a fireguard with any open fire. Never leave an open fire unattended without placing a fireguard in front of the fire. Make sure that the fireguard is fireproof and not made of any flammable materials such as plastic or fabric.
Always place a fire guard over any appliance where indoor pets and small children are able to touch or put their hands near. Log burning stoves heat up to high temperatures and the glass also becomes extremely hot and can cause serious burning and blistering.
If you have any of your own top tips for indoor fire safety then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.