The law provides for two compulsory chimney sweeps per year in general, under penalty of a fine. The sweeping must be carried out by a competent and certified professional and followed by the delivery of a sweeping certificate to be legally counted. However, in fact, it is possible to clean your chimney yourself. In this case, what to do and what are the risks? What the law says ? What about insurance? How much do professional services cost? What happens in the event of a fire? Our answers in this file.
Chimney sweeping: what does the law say?
Chimney sweeping is a legal obligation. In general, two sweepings are necessary per year to reduce the risk of accident, and at least one annual intervention. This obligation is not imposed for economic reasons, but to reduce the danger associated with flues. As in a coal, oil or gas heating, it is necessary that the flues are maintained so that the fumes are evacuated correctly, which reduces the risk of danger of inhalation and fire. Indeed, carbon monoxide poisoning causes nearly a hundred deaths a year in France and more than 3,000 poisonings.
Sweeping your chimney is also a good way to save fuel, because a clean flue allows better draft and emits less pollution.
The number of compulsory annual sweeps is fixed by a municipal decree or a prefectural decree. In the event of non-compliance with the law, the offender is liable to a fine of 3e category (45 to 180 euros) at least, because the penalty will be heavier if the negligence is at the origin of a fire or intoxication.
What does the law provide for chimney sweeping?
The law provides that the user of the chimney is responsible for sweeping it.
- If the user is the owner of the accommodation, he is naturally in charge of sweeping.
- If the user is the tenant of the accommodation, he is responsible for the sweeping and its costs, as provided for in the lease. Nevertheless, the owner must check the condition of the ducts at each change of tenant and have the sweeping carried out if necessary, at the expense of the previous tenant and his own.
Can you clean your chimney yourself? Should I call a pro? What about insurance?
Sweeping your chimney yourself: is it possible?
In fact, yes. You can clean your chimney yourself once or twice a year. In the absence of control, you can take care of it yourself systematically or several times a year to reduce the costs of intervention by a professional.
However, be aware that a house sweeping of a chimney flue has no legal value if it is carried out by an unauthorized person. Without a sweeping certificate issued by a competent and certified professional, your sweeping will not be counted as carried out. On the other hand, it plays in favor of your safety, since to reduce the risk of fire and poisoning, it is better to sweep the house than no cleaning intervention.
If you heat a lot or only with your chimney, it may be advisable to sweep the flue up to three times a year. You can completely consider entrusting two interventions to a professional and carrying out the third yourself to reduce your costs. In this case, no dispute can be brought to your interview since you have two compliant and legal supporting documents, but you still save some money.
To carry out a sweeping at home, you have the possibility of using a sweeping kit – which notably includes a hedgehog brush which takes off the soot and the tar from the walls of the conduit – or of using a chimney sweeping log which acts by chemical cleaning. Of course, you will save some money, but calling on a professional is the best solution.
Why hire a professional chimney sweep?
Calling on a professional to sweep your chimney is preferable both in terms of safety, since the work will be correctly carried out with professional tools, and insurance, since this specialist issues you a valid certificate.
It should be noted that sweeping is billed between 60 and 100 euros on average.
Be careful though, because there is professional and professional! For your chimney sweeping to be certified and accounted for, it must be carried out by a professional chimney sweeper with a specific diploma or OPQCB quality (Professional building qualification and classification body). You have the right to ask to see the supporting documents of the said professional or you can, failing that, check that the chimney sweep is indeed registered in the commercial register.
Avoid street sweepers, because even if they do a good job, you will pay (sometimes very expensively) for a result that does not count as being legally carried out.
Indeed, for your sweeping to be indisputable, we remind you again that the chimney sweep must imperatively give you an invoice and a detailed sweeping certificate.
What about insurance?
If your home is the victim of a chimney fire, your home insurance will cover your costs for the damage caused to your property. On the other hand, your insurer is entitled to require a compliant chimney sweeping certificate. If you cannot provide one and the fire is indeed due to your chimney, the negligence is your responsibility and your insurer may refuse to compensate you or considerably reduce the amount of your compensation.
Indeed, even if you swept your chimney yourself or if you had it done by a competent but unqualified person, your sweeping will have no value in the eyes of your insurer. It’s a bit like declaring a burglary when you forgot to lock your door. The insurer may hold you liable through negligence.
Therefore, remember to keep the chimney sweeping certificate that will have been given to you by your chimney sweep. This will allow you to prove your good faith. However, nothing prevents you from keeping proof of purchase of your sweeping equipment if you intervened yourself. Thus, your insurer may decide to reduce your benefits instead of eliminating them.