The law provides for two compulsory sweepings per year in general, under penalty of a fine. Chimney sweeping must be carried out by a competent and certified professional and followed by the delivery of a chimney 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 the services of a professional cost? What happens in the event of a fire? Our responses in this dossier.
Chimney sweeping: what does the law say?
Cleaning your chimney flues is an obligation provided for by law. In general, two sweeps 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 coal, oil or gas heating, it is necessary that the flue pipes are maintained so that the fumes are exhausted properly, which reduces the risk of inhalation and fire danger. Indeed, carbon monoxide poisoning causes nearly a hundred deaths per 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 rejects 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 negligence is the cause of a fire or poisoning.
What does the law provide for chimney sweeping?
The law provides that the user of the chimney is responsible for its sweeping.
- If the user is the owner of the home, he is naturally in charge of the 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 conduits at each change of tenant and have the chimney sweeping if necessary, at the expense of the previous tenant and his own.
Can you sweep your chimney yourself? Should we call a pro? What about insurance?
Cleaning your chimney yourself: is it possible?
In fact, yes. You can completely sweep your chimney yourself once or twice a year. In the absence of control, you can do it yourself systematically or several times a year to reduce the costs of a professional intervention.
However, be aware that a homemade chimney sweep has no legal value if it is carried out by an unauthorized person. Without a chimney sweep certificate issued by a competent and certified professional, your chimney sweep will not be counted as completed. On the other hand, it plays in favor of your safety, since to reduce the risk of fire and poisoning, it is better to have a house sweep 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 made to your interview since you do have two compliant and legal documents, but you still save some money.
To carry out a homemade sweeping, you have the option of using a sweeping kit – which notably includes a hedgehog brush which removes soot and tar from the walls of the duct – or of using a sweeping log which acts by chemical cleaning. Certainly, you will save some money, but calling a professional is the best solution.
Why call on 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 a chimney sweep is billed between 60 and 100 euros on average.
Be careful, however, because there are professional and professional! For your chimney sweep to be certified and counted, it must be carried out by a professional chimney sweep 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 said professional or you can, failing that, check that the chimney sweep is registered in the commercial register.
So avoid street sweepers, because even if they do a good job, you will pay (sometimes very expensive) for a result that does not count as being legally done.
Indeed, for your chimney sweep to be incontestable, we remind you once again that the chimney sweep must imperatively give you an invoice and a detailed chimney sweep certificate.
What about insurance?
If your home is the victim of a chimney fire, your home insurance will cover your costs for damage to your property. On the other hand, your insurer is entitled to require a compliant chimney sweep certificate. If you cannot provide one and the fire is due to your chimney, you are responsible for negligence and your insurer may refuse to compensate you or considerably reduce the amount of your compensation.
Indeed, even if you have swept your chimney yourself or if you have 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 reporting a break-in when you forgot to lock your door. The insurer may find you liable through negligence.
As a result, remember to keep the chimney sweep certificate given to you by your chimney sweep. This will allow you to prove your good faith. However, nothing prevents you from keeping the proof of purchase of your chimney sweeping equipment if you have intervened yourself. Thus, your insurer may decide to reduce your indemnities instead of eliminating them.