Frequently Asked Questions 

Below you will find the answers to frequently asked questions. Hopefully Chimney Sweep North Devon have covered all topics, however, should you need information on something which is not here, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help. 
A time for nesting. 
CHIMNEY SWEEP NORTH DEVON will NOT clear any chimneys blocked by birds actively building their nests or raising chicks. 
There are rules 

Your Questions Answered by Chimney Sweep North Devon 

Q .  How much do you charge for your services? 

A. We think you will find our prices very competitive, you can click here to see our list of charges

Q .  I live a long way from Barnstaple. Will you still visit? 

A. Yes - providing you are still in our catchment area of North Devon however, If you live more than 20 miles from Barnstaple we will possibly make an extra charge for the visit. It depends if we have other work in that area. 

Q .  What areas do you cover? 

A. We are based in Barnstaple but we cover virtually the whole of North Devon, so please ask us if you are not sure about your area. Click here to see a full list of areas in North Devon that we cover. 

Q .  How do I book a sweep? 

A. We have set times for sweeping and we make every effort to advise you if we are running early or late. Due to its nature, North Devon has intermittent mobile phone signal. If your home area has a bad signal it would be helpful if you could tell us at the time of booking. 

Q .  How often do you think I need to have my chimney swept? And does it NEED sweeping? 

Advice has gradually changed over the years regarding frequency of sweeping. The easiest way for us to advise you is to let you read it from our sweeping association site (APICS). 
 
You can also read up about it from the Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service site 

Q .  I have a thatched property. Do I need the chimney swept every year? I hardly use the fire. 

A. Yes you do need to have a thatched property swept and importantly be quite sure in your own mind that the sweep has been right to the top of the chimney. Also your Insurance Company will insist on it being swept at least once a year. Most insist on twice a year or more though. For further information on thatched properties click here: www.dsfire.gov.uk 

Q .  How long will you be in my house? 

A.It depends if it is a chimney we have not done before, we allow at least one hour as we do not know what we will encounter up it (ie birds nest). 
 
At the least it will take half an hour by the time we cover up and get our equipment in (especially if we have to carry over some distance). 
 
The longest we have ever taken is 2 and a half hours on one chimney and then we had to go back another day to finish off, BUT this is highly unusual and it was an old farmhouse where the chimney had not been swept for years. 

Q .  I have some redundant chimneys in my property, do they need to be capped off? 

A. Ideally, yes. All redundant chimneys left open to the elements will be a prime site for Jackdaws to nest and rain water could also become a problem. Rain can seep out through the sticks of a nest and cause damp patches in a chimney breast (usually the upstairs rooms). 
 
However, all redundant chimneys need to breathe therefore any cap to seal it must have ventilation holes. 

Q .  How do you sweep the chimney? 

A. We use brushes and rods and sweep right to the top of the chimney. Watch the brush come out & have some good luck - it does work! 
 
An elderly gentleman had his house on the market for 2 years without any success. We swept it and got him to see the brush come out. Within a few months he had sold it (strangely enough to some people we knew and we'd not mentioned it being for sale at all). 
 
Another person designed architectural structures - he had had no work for about a year. Within 2 weeks after we had swept, he had someone contact him for a substantial project! 
 
We also have an Industrial vacuum which keeps dust to an absolute minimum. 

Q. Do you have CCTV? 
 
A. As from 2016 - YES we do. Do not be afraid to ask Geoff to use it if you have any concerns about your chimney. 
 
To do a CCTV inspection, the chimney needs to be swept beforehand. So on top of the sweep charges there will be extra charges for 
a CCTV inspection on its own (no written report) 
a CCTV inspection and written report - sent by post (or preferably email) 
CCTV inspection and a video recording for you to keep (either on CD/USB stick [sent by post] or email) 
CCTV inspection, video recording AND a written report all sent via choices as above 
FOR PRICES FOR THIS SERVICE PLEASE SEE CHARGES PAGE 

Q .  Do you use Power Sweeping? 

A. Heard of Power Sweeping? It's basically a head attachment to certain types of rods operated by a drill inserted into the bottom rod. The head spins as it is inserted into the chimney. 
 
We investigated this method last year. However for various reasons we have decided to remain with traditional methods at present. 

Q .  Why do I need a cowl fitted to my chimney? 

A. 
It keeps birds out (provided you install one with meshed sides) 
It keeps debris (eg leaves/fallen twigs etc) out. Most important to prevent blocked chimneys and therefore chimney fires 
Have one with a 'rain hat' and it keeps the most of the wet stuff out! Obviously very high, driving rain will get in to a degree but soot and rain create tar - who wants this coming down their chimney? 
IT KEEPS YOUR CHIMNEY SAFER and allows the sweep to clean it efficiently. 

Q .  What sort of cowl do you think I need? 

A. Click here to visit our cowl page, which should answer all your cowl related questions. 

Q .  Can you help with birds nests? 

A. Birds nests are all part of a chimney sweeps work.  
However 
there are rules regarding the removal of a nest which is known to have eggs or chicks in and the birds are actively nesting.  
We will refuse to remove a nest if this is the case  
so between late Feb/March and August, be extra vigilant. If you know birds are building a nest CALL US EARLY before nesting properly gets underway. Jackdaws (the only birds to build nests in chimneys) can be seen taking an interest quite early in the year.  
If you call us early enough we will be happy to remove the nest BUT PLEASE NOTE that  
no-one can physically stop Jackdaws nesting in chimneys. If we sweep it and they come back again within a few days they will VERY QUICKLY build another nest.  
The only answer is to have a suitable cowl which stops them getting into the chimney in the first place. A one off payment for a good cowl is MUCH cheaper than several calls to the Chimney Sweep!! 
 
Chimney Sweep North Devon are very good at what they do, but even they cannot stop jackdaws from building a nest!! 
 
Birds nests also carry Salmonella and we are strongly advising customers to have a suitable cowl fitted to stop the dear little Jackdaws from nesting and making life extremely unpleasant for us Chimney Sweeps!! 
For More information about bird nest removal please Click here to visit the RSPB website 

Q .  You mention APICS on your site, who are they? 

A. APICS is the Association of Professional and Independent Chimney Sweeps.One of only 3 recognised associations in the UK. All members are 'vetted' and have to pass a rigorous practical examination and must have attended the HETAS Solid Fuel awareness course. 
 
Members of APICS work to an agreed National standard. Geoff at Chimney Sweep North Devon is proud to be trained and a member of APICS. Click here for more information about APICS 

Q .  What do I need to know about carbon monoxide? I don't need a Carbon Monoxide alarm. I'll know if something is wrong... won't I? 

A. You DO need an AUDIBLE Carbon Monoxide alarm if you burn or use ANY kind of fossil fuel - gas/oil/wood/coal. You can be dying whilst the little patches are changing colour. You need to know you have a Carbon Monoxide problem immediately. 
 
And NO, you will probably not know if anything is wrong. It is tasteless, you cannot see it or smell it
 
It is known as the 'Silent Killer'. It can kill you whilst you sleep and without an audible alarm you may never know anything was wrong. 
There are symptoms of CO poisoning - click here for in depth information. 
 
You also need a smoke alarm as a general precaution for a fire in the home to warn you of that particular danger. A smoke alarm will not warn of Carbon Monoxide nor will a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm warn you of smoke, but you can buy combined ones. 

Q .  You mention HETAS on your site, who are they? 

A. HETAS stands for Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (this definition is not commonly used). 
 
They "are the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses". 
 
In other words, if the chimney sweep is HETAS registered, then he/she should be good. 
 
Please note that many Chimney Sweeps DO NOT make the effort to clear the Registry Plate yet will happily issue a certificate to say the chimney has been swept. YOUR CHIMNEY SWEEP SHOULD AS A MATTER OF COURSE CLEAN THE REGISTRY PLATE IF IT ACCESSIBLE. IF IT IS NOT ACCESSIBLE YOU WILL NOT GET YOUR CHIMNEY SWEPT BY A GENUINE AND TRAINED CHIMNEY SWEEP. 
 
The HETAS website provides details of approved chimney sweeps and other trained personnel. They also recommend approved appliances and fuels. Click here for more information about HETAS 

Q .  Am I in a smoke controlled area? 

A. Click on the link to visit the government website to check if your home is in a smoke controlled area. 
 

Q .  Which wood should I burn? 

A. Here is a poem to help you remember which wood is best to burn...it's only a bit of fun but it may help: 
 
The Best Wood in the House 
{how to remember which wood is best) 
 
If you can keep your logs a year, 
Then beech wood gives good Christmas cheer. 
But chestnut, lest it’s kept for years 
Will be a waste and cause you tears. 
Birch and fir-wood blaze away 
And will all be gone within a day!! 
Larch and pine give flames on high 
And sparks which head towards the sky 
Dry old oak will send out heat 
And toast your hands and face and feet. 
Poplar is a smoky wood 
For eyes and throat it is not good… 
Elm will always keep you cool 
So do not buy it – that’s the rule 
Hawthorn (like the beechwood rhyme), 
Needs some rest then burns just fine. 
Apple and pear will often bring 
A scent which makes us think of spring 
Now last in line, the wood that’s best 
Is ASH, or had you already guessed? 
 
But don’t despair if in your shed 
You have some wood of which you’ve read… 
For most any type if stored away 
Will burn and keep you warm all day* 
So light your fire and dim the lights 
And look forward to those winter nights. 
* (Except poplar – which is why they use this to make matchsticks) 
WILLOW is not mentioned. It does not burn too well, but if any wood is free then it may as well be utilised or it will go to landfill. 

Q .  Can you give me advice on which stove to choose, how to look after them, or who can install them? 

A. Yes we can - just click here to visit our Stoves page for answers to all your questions. 

Q .  What other services do you provide? 

As well as our first class traditional method chimney sweep service we also provide the following services:- 
 
Stove servicing (eg replace ropes/order and replace new glass etc. We can also recommend trusted HETAS qualified local installers. 
Advice on the most suitable chimney cowls and we can also supply them. 
Geoff now has CCTV, so if you feel there is a problem which needs investigating, please ask him.  
SEE INFO ABOVE ON CCTV 

Q .  Do you do weddings? 

A. Geoff has been asked this question many times and the answer is NO... but we know a man who can!! 
 
Give us a call or e-mail us and we will give you details. 
If you haven't been able to find the  
answer to your question 
please get in touch by 
and we will do our best to help you. 
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