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Once or twice a year? What is rule for chimney sweeping in France

Departments and insurance companies can have more stringent requirements than the national rules

All chimneys need sweeping once a year, but wood fuel chimneys need sweeping twice a year in most areas Pic: Cirkovic Milos / Shutterstock

The national rules say chimneys must be swept at least once a year, but for chimneys serving wood and pellet heating systems this is twice a year for most departments and insurance companies. We look at which rules apply and where.

All chimneys must be swept by a professional at least once a year - this is a legal requirement. However, there are other rules depending on the type of stove you have and where you live. 

As a rule of thumb, chimneys for gas need sweeping once a year and solid fuel chimneys twice a year.

Read more: What are the rules on having a chimney fire in France?

Each department sets its rules in the Règlement Sanitaire Départemental, which you can consult in your local mairie.

You should also ask your home insurance provider. Your insurer should follow the departmental rules.

Read more: Am I allowed to sweep my own chimney in France? 

How frequently must I have my chimney swept?

Depending on the fuel source:

  • Gas stove chimneys: once a year
  • Heating fuel chimneys: once a year
  • Pellet stove chimneys: twice a year *
  • Wood stove chimneys: twice a year *

*The frequency depends on a department’s Règlement Sanitaire Départemental (RSD). The vast majority - if not all - of these are currently set at twice a year.

For all the departments we checked, the RSD says “Smoke ducts [for non-gaseous fuel] that are in regular use and serve homes or work spaces must be swept twice a year, one of which must be during the period of use”.

There is confusion around this subject. For example, The Connexion spoke to several departmental prefectures, including Dordogne, Gard and Calvados. While Dordogne and Calvados confirmed that chimneys for wood and pellet stoves must be swept twice a year for houses, the Gard prefecture was uncertain. The ‘official’ RSD document for the Gard (from 1983) states that it should be carried out twice a year but is only referring to flats and property syndicates.

However, insurers have no doubts. Both Matmut and Groupama say the rules are clear and that chimneys for wood and pellet stoves require sweeping twice a year in all properties in these three departments.

To be certain how often you should have your chimney swept, contact your insurer, as they are likely to be the first port of call in case of a problem.

In case of a chimney fire, a house fire or to smoke damage, insurers will require proof that the homeowner has satisfied their obligations with regard to having any chimneys swept. 

This proof, in the form of a certificat de ramonage, is provided by a professional chimney sweep.

“In order to activate a fire insurance claim under your multi risk home insurance, you need to present the insurer with a certificat de ramonage to prove that the damage was not due to negligence on your part,” said Groupama.

Failure to present a certificat de ramonage can result in your insurance being invalidated, or a reduced payout.

Read more

Wood burning stoves: what are the rules in France? 

Chimney sweep not at fault for later fire in French home

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