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Thatch advice – Chimney safety and maintenance


Thatch advice – Chimney safety and maintenance

The UK is home to around 60,000 thatched houses and thatched cottages, all of which require regular maintenance and upkeep.

Thatch is a strong, natural material that has been used on roofs for centuries. While thatched roofs are durable, they naturally degrade over time and need rethatching every 15-40 years, depending on the material used. 
While it is important to maintain your thatched roof, it is also essential to inspect your chimney regularly to reduce the risk of a thatch fire. Statistically around 90% of thatched fires are caused by chimney related incidents, therefore it is important to take precautions to reduce this risk.
Firstly, the top of the chimney should be a minimum of 1.8m above the thatch to allow any sparks to die out before exiting the chimney and settling on the thatch. 
Chimneys should be regularly inspected by a professional chimney engineer to ensure it is in good condition, including checks on the liner and brickwork. If the liner is worn it may cause the brickwork to heat up too much, causing damage to the thatch or chimney itself. 

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Thatch burns at approximately 200 degrees, meaning the chimney would have to become very hot for a long period of time to cause a fire. While unlikely to reach these temperatures, modern stoves can release flue gas temperatures of over 300 degrees and a single brick layer can transfer 85% of heat to the outer layer of the chimney, showing the importance of maintaining your liner and brickwork to reduce fire risk. 
It is also important to have your chimney swept throughout the year to avoid deposit build up in the flue. At Higos, we recommend the chimney is swept twice a year at key times. We suggest at least once between 1st July and 31st October prior to winter use and at least once between 1st January and 31st March, after winter use.
Chimney flues, liners and spark arrestors must also be checked and maintained regularly. To aid cleaning prior to sweeps, it is possible to use chemical flue cleaners to loosen or even remove tar deposits in the chimney, however care must be taken. 
It is also essential to ensure appropriate liners are used for your chimney. Seek professional advice for this to assess the roof and the chimney. 
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Spark arrestors, where fitted, must be cleaned when the chimney is swept to ensure the free flow of combustion gases. Spark arrestors are no longer recommended as they can become clogged and rapidly increase the risk of fire. 
Wood burners are a more recent introduction to thatched houses and burn hotter than open fires. While safety has improved for wood burners over the years, care must still be taken. It is essential to only burn dry, seasoned wood for both wood burners and open fires in thatched properties to avoid high levels of deposit in the flue.
Taking precautions when owning a thatched property and making sure you are fully insured is important should the worst happen. 
At Higos, we have years’ experience specialising in protecting thatched properties.

Contact our professionally qualified, dedicated team today on 01458 270 352 or email to discuss your requirements.


Posted by: Higos Insurance Services Ltd