Check your chimneys during mild winters

With just a few days until Christmas, most people should be well into their season of burning with their stoves and open fires. However, the unusually mild winter has resulted in many people yet to strike a match yet.

But this weather has also confused the local wildlife, evident by spring daffodils already out in bloom. The more concerning thing for us is the activity of the birds. Rather than waiting for spring, some are already starting to make nests, with such birds as Jackdaws and Crows favouring a chimney pot and stack. We have already had requests for bird guards to stop such activity, and with no end in sight of the mild weather the situation is only going to get worse, as the birds search for a nest site, and people are not feeling the need to light their fires.

Having your chimneys swept

The general advise is that chimneys should be swept twice a year, once after the burning season, so around April time, and then before the burning season gets underway, so September. This winter, with such mild weather the chimneys have yet to be used, so the birds have had the opportunity to scout out a nest site and start building a nest, without being put off by the smoke and heat. A big nest can totally block a chimney, and could pose big health issues, and fire risk, as the smoke would not be able to evacuate the stack and would end up back in the room, along with carbon monoxide.

Checking for nests

We would strongly advise that people check for such nests before lighting a festive yule log on Christmas morning. This can be by observing the chimney pot from the garden, and checking the chimney still draws, by lighting a smoke match or smoke pellet, and ensuring the smoke can be seen exiting the pot. Extendable endoscope type cameras can be pushed up the chimney to look for any obstructions. If access is available to get to the top of the stack, then a full visual check is always the best way of being certain.

Installing bird guards

The only certain way to avoid such nests would be to install a bird guard terminal onto the chimney pot. Such terminals should be chosen with care, to ensure the correct item is used. Ensure they meet the correct regulations for the fuel being used. Some terminals are on offer in different metals, but buying galvanised, rather than stainless steel often works out to be a false economy, as the galvanised may only last a year or two before corrosion causes it to fail, whilst a longer life would be expected from stainless steel. With some chimney stacks requiring roof scaffolds or access lifts, a replacement can be an expensive process.

David Ebbs, Technical Sales Support

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