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How often does my chimney need to be cleaned?

The fire service recommend that, in normal use, chimneys should be swept as follows (unless your insurance company or stove manufacturer declares otherwise):

  • Chimneys with solid fuel appliances: Smokeless fuels at least once a year / Domestic bituminous coal at least twice a year / Wood burning every three months when in use.

  • Chimneys with gas appliances: once a year and should be checked by a Gas Safe technician.

  • Chimneys with oil appliances once a year and should be checked by an OFTEC technician.

I’ve just lit my fire and it is smoking – does it need to be cleaned?

If it has been used but not been swept within the past 12 months, for safety it should be swept as soon as possible. If it has not been used since it was last swept, and the problem of birds nesting can be ruled out (if there is a cage or cowl on the chimney), it could be due to the cold or weather conditions. Please call us and we may be able to give advice on the appropriate action to be taken.

If you think there is a blockage in your chimney, please advise us, or call to discuss the problem.  We can remove most blockages and can establish what has happened and advise on how to prevent it happening again.

Since there may be eggs or even hatched baby birds in a nest (which are protected) we will not remove nests during the breeding season (May & June) to ensure that the young have left the nest. For more information and advice, see this link from the RSPB.

How much will it cost?

Charges vary locally and some seasonal and/or volume discounts are offered. Please check with your local Wilkins Chimney Sweep for charges and availability when booking.

How long does it take?

It usually takes approximately half an hour to sweep each chimney. Occasionally this may take a little longer.

Blockages (e.g. a bird’s nest) take more time to clear because of the amount of debris that has to be removed. Where we know, or our customer suspects, there is a blockage we try to schedule this at the end of our working day to ensure there is time to do the work in full and any potential delay does not inconvenience other customers.

What happens if I can't keep the appointment?

If you need to change or cancel your appointment we’d really appreciate you giving us as much notice as possible so we have a chance to reallocate your appointment to someone else.

If you are unable to give us less than 24 hours’ notice, we do reserve the right to charge a cancellation fee of up to 100% of the quoted fee.

Why don’t you give me a specific time for my appointment?

When you book a visit, we give you an arrival time slot of one hour. As much as would love to give you a precise time sometimes traffic congestion or unexpected challenges at a previous appointment can disrupt our schedule. If we are going to arrive outside our scheduled time (earlier or later) we will always ring you to let you know and check whether it is still convenient.

What happens if I need to go out before you arrive?

If this is our first visit we prefer it if someone is home when we arrive. We appreciate emergencies do crop up so please let us know in advance if you need to leave a key in a secure place or with a neighbour. In the unfortunate event no-one is home when we visit or we cannot gain access the cancellation charge will be up to 100% of the quoted fee.

Do you need us to stay with you whilst you are here – or is it OK to ‘leave you to it?’

Often our customers simply let us in and then go out! We believe that this is mainly because all of our sweeps are Police Checked but also because we return year on year and our customers get to know us.

We will happily work with you to make our service as convenient as possible.

What if I have to go out but you encounter a problem?

If we find anything out of the ordinary or of concern we will contact you – it is best to provide us with both a landline and a mobile contact whenever possible. If further work is needed we will check with you before carrying out any additional work unless you are not present or not contactable and we believe the work is essential or it would be dangerous to leave the situation as it is.

Do I need to cover the furniture?

Our service is as clean as we can make it. We provide sheets that cover the fireplace opening and the area to the front of the fireplace, and we also use a commercial vacuum to keep dust to an absolute minimum.


When we remove a nest, however, we recommend that your furniture, television, near-by curtains and carpets are covered. We will do our best to contain the debris but, until we start removing the nest, we cannot be sure of how big it is. The action of removing the nest means it is impossible to fully seal the fireplace and therefore further precautions need to be taken by the householder.

What happens if you make a mess?

The worst thing that we can do when sweeping is to bring soot down the chimney and into the room. We are very experienced and take every precaution to prevent this.

We have public liability insurance up to £2,000,000 (and some of our team, up to £5 million) so you can rest assured that, if an accident happens, you are fully covered.

Am I likely to get any mess after you’ve swept?

We will always sweep your chimney to the best of our ability and report anything that we found to be out of the ordinary or of concern. Although we make every effort to remove as much soot and debris from the chimney as possible in exceptional circumstances (such as when the soot contains moisture or cold air is trapped in the chimney) small amounts of soot can sometimes fall after we leave. If you’re concerned about this do give us a call.

What do you do with the soot you’ve removed?

Usually, we will leave the soot with you in a bag for disposal with your household waste. If preferred we can remove the soot for disposal off site as we are registered low-tier waste carrier licence holders. There may be an additional charge for this service however – we have to pay to take the waste to a municipal site.

How and when do I pay?

As standard, customers pay directly to the sweep at the end of their visit. We can provide details for a bank transfer if preferred, and many of our team accept card payment where there is reasonable a mobile signal!

Will you invoice me?

Yes, we can email you an invoice if required.

Can I pay online?

Payment details can be provided for online payment if preferred. Please make sure you put your property name or first line of the address – it helps us to identify your payment!

Do you take credit cards?

Debit and credit card terminals work via mobile telephone signals. Most of our team have the capacity to take card payments, as long as the signal in your home is strong enough. Please check in advance if this is important to you.

My house insurance stipulates annual cleaning of my chimney. Are you able to provide proof to show it has been swept?

Yes. We will send you a certificate of chimney sweeping by email. You will normally receive this within 24 hours of the sweep (or once your payment has been received).

Are you able to check the safety of my chimney when you sweep it?

The sweeps aim to keep your chimney clean and safe to use. However we are only able to conduct a brief visual inspection of your chimney unless you request a CCTV inspection or a ‘soundness’ smoke test. This further inspection might highlight any problems with the chimney itself. Please note that there is a limit to what can be seen by CCTV inside a chimney! Your certificate of chimney sweeping is not a warranty or guarantee that your fireplace, chimney stack or appliance is safe. Please let us know of any suspected problems in advance

Are you able to provide advice if you believe our chimney needs some maintenance?

A CCTV inspection may be useful for assessing any damage, when getting quotes for any remedial work and providing evidence for insurance or repair purposes. We are always more than happy to advise on what might be required.

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