Expert View: Things to think about during the flue season

Alastair Woodgate, Rumball Sedgwick

Alastair Woodgate, Rumball Sedgwick - Credit: Archant

Alastair Woodgate of leading chartered surveyors and estate agents, Rumball Sedgwick, provides some timely advice on making sure your chimney is fit for the festive season.

As Father Christmas once again loads up his sleigh, ready for his magical round-the-world parcel service, he’ll no doubt also be limbering up to face the challenge of chimneys of all shapes and sizes around the globe.

In recent years Santa has found it increasingly difficult to make his Christmas Eve deliveries as the number of houses with chimneys has fallen. Building Regulations have been tightened to emphasise energy efficiency in new homes, making it less likely that a chimney will have been installed. Less than 10 per cent of new homes are now built with working chimneys.

However, things may be looking up with the increasing popularity of wood-burning stoves, provided Santa can negotiate his way around their flue pipes.

To save soot on Santa’s suit and to guard against the risk of chimney fires, open flues should be swept professionally at least once a year. This is especially important before lighting the first winter fire as birds may have nested in the meantime which could prevent smoke escaping up the chimney.

Although unpopular with Santa, bird guards can be fitted to the tops of chimney pots to stop birds nesting in the first place.

A blocked fireplace not only makes Santa’s job more difficult: it can result in a dangerous build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas in the room. It is a legal requirement in privately rented properties for the landlord to provide a carbon monoxide detector in rooms with open fires or solid fuel burners. So why not fit one in your own home too?

Most Read

Traditionally houses had plenty of draughts, while today they are often too airtight for an open fire. If you don’t give the fire sufficient oxygen, it will find its own, drawing great gulps of air down the chimney and throwing smoke out into the room. So, if necessary, add a vent to an outside wall adjacent to your fireplace.

If you’re thinking of installing or adapting a chimney and fireplace, perhaps to ease Santa’s speedy arrival and get-away next year, note that any work that affects an existing chimney (including installation of a stove or flue liner) or work that creates a new chimney is considered building work, and so comes under the Building Regulations.

Why Santa chooses to use the chimney when he can make his entrance with his magic key is a bit of a mystery. But chimney or not, children everywhere can be reassured that Santa won’t be left out in the cold this Christmas.

For property advice contact Alastair and his team on 01727 519140 or at