Reader Question: We plan to come to our second home for Christmas but have not had the chimney swept this year. What are the rules about this and what is the best way to get it done?
The rules about sweeping chimneys serving wood and pellet heating systems are set on the national and departmental level as well as by your insurance company.
The national rules say you need to sweep your chimney at least once a year (decree n° 2023-641).
However, many departments require chimneys that serve wood stoves to be swept twice a year: once at the end of the heating season, and once during the period when the chimney is in use.
Insurance companies also require two sweepings a year for wood stoves.
Chimneys for pellet stoves require sweeping once a year.
If in doubt, contact your insurance company, as they are far more likely to be concerned with damage to your home than the local or national authorities.
Work must be done by a professional
A professional ramoneur (sweep) must hold a diploma recognised by the local chamber of trade.
You can find one near you using this online search tool. Expect to pay around €70-€90.
The national decree also obliges homeowners to be given information about the proper use and maintenance of solid-fuel burning appliances to reduce fine particle emissions.
Sweeping your chimney is essential for keeping your stove not only efficient but also as safe as possible. Dirty or badly kept chimneys are the main cause of chimney fires.
You must obtain a certificate for the work and retain it. This is proof the chimney has been swept and can be required by your insurer if you need to make a claim over a fire.
You can, in theory, be fined up to €450 for not having your chimney swept. An unswept chimney can also invalidate your home insurance, or result in a reduced payout on insurance claims.