Maintenance of Solid Fuel Appliances in Thatched Properties

Continuation of Useful Advice

We had a great response to our first article on Preparation and Operation of Solid Fuel Appliances in Thatched properties.  This promised next article follows on with information again expertly provided by our Associates Quantum Chimney Services.  We thank them again for their input.  The importance of correct maintenance of solid fuel appliances and systems is essential.

Correct maintenance and inspection, coupled with good preparation and operation not only improves efficiency and fire safety but also will provide insurance compliance and peace of mind.

Here’s what our associates say:

Maintenance of solid fuel appliances and systems in thatched cottages

Maintenance of Solid Fuel Appliances

“Once you have successfully prepared fuel and have been safely operating your solid fuel appliance as required, putting in place a regular maintenance schedule is essential.


It is likely that, as part of meeting your insurer’s policy provisions, you will be required to show documentation that your appliance and chimney or flue has undergone at least an annual clean through sweeping.  As a minimum, we would recommend all thatch owners have a sweep undertaken no less than twice per year, potentially more dependent on frequency of use.

The first sweep should take place at the end of the burning season (typically March / April). This sweep is there to remove any build-up of material from the chimney or flue system that has built-up during the burning season. This will reduce the risk of a chimney fire occurring when next in use but, will also help reduce other risks that may arise from an unmaintained flue shaft, for example reduction in flue size which could lead to smoke and fumes spilling back into a room or accelerated deterioration of the flue system itself.

The second sweep should occur before the burning season begins again (typically late September / October). Many homeowners will ask why have it swept when I have not used it since the last sweep. The answer is simple, the potential risk for a fire to occur due to bird nesting material obstructing a flue shaft needs to be mitigated.

There are many different methods available to sweeping a chimney, from the traditional rod and brush to more modern power sweeping techniques. Please ensure that (dependent on the flue system you have in place) the correct method of sweeping is employed by your chosen sweep to meet the manufacturer’s instructions.  Sometime we see lining systems damaged because an incorrect sweeping method has been used.

Maintenance of solid fuel appliances and woodburners - CCTV


It is becoming an industry standard for insurance companies offering policies to thatch properties to ask for periodic inspections on:

  • Safety and condition of any solid fuel appliance (whether an open fire or stove)
  • The associated chimney and flue system.

Maintenance includes regular inspections

The Importance of Maintenance

Even if your insurer has not yet put this stipulation into your policy, we do recommend an inspection as a service you seek as a minimum every two years.

Homeowners shouldn’t view this as an additional cost and service required, but as an essential part of the maintenance of an appliance, chimney and flue.

A thorough inspection on the safety and condition can help the homeowner identify potential risks to themselves and their property before they occur.  This gives the opportunity for remedial works to be undertaken (as opposed to full removal and reinstallation works which can prove costly).

Full detailed reports should be provided, documenting all aspects of a solid fuel installation which can then be passed on to the relevant insurance company.

We advise homeowners that the inspections should be undertaken by a separate person or company from those used to undertake regular sweeping maintenance. This allows an independent perspective and opinion to be offered. As the old adage goes ‘two heads are better than one’. “

Maintenance - flue inspection


By working together with specialists we hope to be able to bring you the information to enable improved and safer use of solid fuel appliances.  Thanks again to Quantum Chimney Services for their help with this information on the maintenance of solid fuel appliances, as well as the previous one on the preparation and operation of solid fuel appliances.

Too many times the chimney system and the appliance are blamed for incidents when perhaps it is the lack of preparation, understanding, maintenance and inspections which is the problem.

If you drove a car with a fuel leak, without an exhaust, without working brakes, or put petrol in a diesel vehicle you would expect reduced performance and a greater risk of problems….. What is the difference?

Please take note of this advice, it is for the benefit of your health, wealth, warmth, well-being and the safety of your property too.

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