East Sussex chimneys – gas poisoning warning

James Hughes, of the Guild of Master Sweeps
James Hughes, of the Guild of Master Sweeps

Residents risk death or serious injury if their chimneys are not kept clean over the summer months.

That’s the serious warning issued by James Hughes, a member of the Guild of Master Sweeps, who has swept chimneys in the area for more than 20 years.

James is very concerned about the safety of residents and he is calling upon everyone to book an appointment with their local sweep this August – or risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

He said: “It’s easy to forget the chimney when the sky is blue and everyone is outside enjoying the sunshine. But you wouldn’t keep your carpets dirty over the summer. Chimneys also need care and attention all-year round.

“Dirty chimneys are a leading cause of carbon monoxide poisoning inside homes. If you used your indoor fire stove or open fire during the winter – has it been cleaned since? It’s essential to keep your chimney clean in the summer, to prepare safely for the winter.”

Carbon monoxide, an invisible and deadly gas, is created by fire but needs a safe passage from the home to the outside atmosphere.

If a chimney is clogged-up with soot and other residue, there is no escape route for the gas – so it will draw back down into the home, risking the lives of everyone inside.

“Chimneys also need to be kept clear of other problems, such as bird’s nests,” adds James. “Otherwise your building could be damaged. Your local sweep can give professional advice.”

David Kemp, head of community Safety for East Sussex Fire and Rescue, said: “If you’ve got open fires or log burners, please call in the experts to check your property’s chimneys and flues are in good condition before you start using them this winter. In the summer months, blockages or damage can occur which you may not be aware of.

“We also know that it’s obviously a busy time for chimney sweeps – so the sooner you get your appointment booked in, the sooner you can have peace of mind that you have done what you can to help protect your home or business.”