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When should a chimney be swept?

Last updated on 6 April 2020

The answer is simple: when the regulations require you to, i.e. during periodic inspection of your heating installation. You have everything to gain in terms of safety.

According to household insurers, a third of house fires start in a chimney or flue.  

What is chimney sweeping?

When you burn fuel oil, wood or coal, deposits of soot or tar accumulate in the chimney and can catch fire. Sweeping gets rid of them.

A chimney can be swept:

  • from inside (at the bottom) with a metal or synthetic brush on a rod;
  • from outside (at the top, via the roof) with a chimney brush hooked to a cable with a weight at the end of it.

The movement of the brush up and down detaches deposits from the chimney walls.The chimney sweep removes the waste and vacuums the bottom of the flue.He also takes the opportunity to check that the flue is not blocked by a nest or any bricks that might have become detached.

Soot is hazardous and toxic waste that the expert has to remove using an approved removal system.Taking this waste away is one of the services you are paying the chimney sweep to perform.Most importantly, do not dispose of this waste with your household rubbish and do not spread it in the garden or on the compost heap!

What must I do as far as chimney sweeping is concerned?

Stove or on an open fire (using logs or pellets)

For these individuela wood-heating systems, you are legally required to have your chimney swept once a year. If you constantly heat with wood, two sweepings a year is safer.

Central heating

In this case your central heating boiler flue must be swept during the mandatory PEB inspection (every two years for gas, every year for other fuels). In Belgium, legislation varies by region.

Read more about the mandatoory periodic EPB inspections in Brussels.

Who is responsible for having the chimney swept? The landlord or the tenant?

The general rule is as follows: 

  • the tenant is responsible for maintaining the accommodation and its facilities (including fireplaces and the boiler), so the tenant pays for this.
  • the landlord is responsible for repairs and must pay for them.In most cases the lease agreement will clearly mention it.

Can I sweep my chimney myself?

No. Even if this is technically feasible. In the event of a fire, you must be able to prove to your insurance company or to your landlord that your chimney has been swept by a qualified technician.

The engineer will issue you with a certificate and an invoice. The certificate lists the date of the sweeping, the number of chimneys swept and any damage noticed. This certificate must be kept for a period of 2 years.

How much does it cost to have a chimney swept? 

Sweeping costs about €60 to €80 altogether. Your safety and that of your loved ones is worth more than that! Also remember that, on average, firefighters in Brussels are called out more than once a week for chimney fires!

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