Do I need to sweep and insure an unused chimney in my French home?

New rules over chimney cleaning came into force at the end of 2023

Chimneys are usually covered as part of general insurance policies in France
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Reader Question: I do not use my chimney, heating my home with electricity. Does it still need insurance and regular sweeping?

It is not usual in France to take out a specific ‘chimney’ insurance policy.

However in general, multirisques habitation (general home insurance) policies cover fires, including from chimneys.

You must inform your insurer about the presence of a chimney in your house.

Policies will vary with regard to fire cover, in terms of any excess and how much is paid in the event of an accident. Check that the terms are acceptable. You may be able to request additional fire cover if you wish.

In the event of a fire, your insurer will probably ask for a certificate showing that your chimney has been recently cleaned (in the last 12 months) by a professional chimney cleaner (ramoneur).

Some policies can require more regular cleaning.

Read more: How can I reduce the cost of home insurance in France?

Do unused chimneys need to be cleaned?

New rules over chimney cleaning came into force at the end of 2023, which you can read about below.

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

If you have a chimney but do not use it, it is still recommended that you clean it regularly.

Technically, Article R. 1331-16 of the new law states “in the absence of use for a minimum period of 12 months [of the chimney], no maintenance is required during this period.” However, in such a case it is obligatory to have it swept before any new use, the law says.

Note certain local bylaws may still require cleaning even if the chimney is not in use (for example, in areas with a high risk of forest fires).

Annual cleaning of your chimney flue can still be a good idea in order to receive the form proving this from the sweep which may still be requested by your insurer in the case of a fire, despite the new law.

Check with your insurer – reportedly in some cases they will accept a signed attestation to the effect that the chimney is never used.

Sweeping is also recommended in general to ensure the chimney remains clean and dry and free from any debris.

Generally, from an insurance perspective, cleaning is never necessary only in the case of a chimney that is completely out of use and is closed up where insurers should not view it as a potential cause of a fire.

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