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Fire Safety

At ZIP®, we take fire safety very seriously, and are often asked for advice on a number of wide-ranking topics such as whether a chimney needs sweeping or how a fireguard should be used. To make it easier, we have collated our most frequently asked questions.

Fire Safety

Q: How often should I have my chimney swept?

A: Frequency of sweeping can depend on a number of factors. Our guidelines are:

  • Chimneys – once or twice a year
  • Smokeless fuel open fires – once a year
  • Bituminous house coal open fires – twice a year
  • Wood burning stoves – every three months during use


Many insurance companies now insist on proof of sweeping by a certified chimney sweep, and it is also worth checking the details of your insurance policy to ensure you will be covered in the event of a claim.

Q: How can I prevent the build-up of creosote and tars in my chimney?

A: To help ensure that your chimney remains clean of all residues, use only dry wood, and have your chimney swept on a regular basis. Using wet or damp wood or turf can lead to a build-up of creosote and tar, which needs to be removed. Burning a hot fire can also ignite residues and cause a chimney fire. Why not try ZIP® Soot Reducer?

Q: Where should I store my firelighters and fuel?

A: Firelighters should be kept away from the close surroundings of a fire, in a cool and dry place. Many fire makers store them next to the fire on the hearth for convenience, however, this is a fire risk. We advise you to keep our firelighters in a metal tin and away from food.

Wood, coal, and peat should be stored in a dry place, with good ventilation so that any dampness can quickly be evaporated to leave dry fuel. The wetter the fuel the harder it will be to light.

Q: What fuel is suitable for my stove?

A: Always be guided by your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Q: Do I need a good air supply?

A: For open fires, the chimney should provide enough air to help ’draw the fire’. However, for closed appliances like wood burners and stoves, there needs to be an adequate flow of air, to allow them to burn correctly. Ensure that the rooms which have fires in them are well-ventilated with fresh air. Sometimes a little draft from outside increases the performance of a fire and sometimes the wind direction moving over the chimney pot can aid airflow. However, fires are generally worse performing on windy days when the wind tends to blow down the chimney.

If you have double glazing or draught-proofing, you might want to consider fitting an air duct to allow fresh air to enter your room.

Q: What precautions should I take to ensure that my fire does not produce harmful gasses?

A: To prevent harmful gasses from being produced by your fire, enough oxygen must be supplied to burn your fuels completely. To do this:

  • Ensure all chimneys are cleaned regularly and are kept clear of any obstructions.
  • Make sure stoves and appliances are professionally installed and that the doors are sealed properly.
  • Never block vents or air bricks.


Q: How often do I need to remove the ash from my fire?

A: A build-up of ash may damage your appliance, so it is important that you remove any ash before each new fire. Allow the ash to cool before cleaning out (ideally overnight). If the ash is from wood logs, then it would be possible to use it in your garden as a form of fertilizer. It contains 13 essential nutrients for good plant growth. It also helps to maintain a neutral soil condition.

Q: When should I use a fireguard?

A: ZIP® recommends using a fireguard with an open fire. Never leave an open fire unattended without placing a fireguard in front of the fire. Make sure that the fireguard is fireproof and not made of any flammable materials, such as plastic or fabric.

Always place a fire guard over any appliance where indoor pets and small children are able to touch or put their hands nearby. Log-burning stoves heat up to high temperatures, and the glass also becomes extremely hot and can cause serious burning and blistering.

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