Chimney sweeping

Doing the chimney sweeping is not only obligatory but also essential for its proper functioning. In particular, it makes it possible to significantly reduce the risk of fire or the emission of toxic gases.

Chimney sweeping: an obligation under the law

Article 31-6 of the State Departmental Health Regulations (RSDT) states that:

“The internal or external flues, fixed or removable, used for the evacuation of the gases of combustion shall be kept in a good state of maintenance and operation and periodically swept in order to ensure the proper functioning of the appliances and to avoid the risk of fire and the emission of harmful gases into the building, as well as the release of particles into the outside atmosphere. “

Although this regulation may vary slightly from one department to another (thus the Prefecture of Paris imposes two sweeps per year), mechanical sweeping is mandatory in all cases and can be claimed:

  • by your municipality;
  • and by your insurance company.

In addition, this regulation does not only concern chimney flues, but also all boiler and stove ducts, whether fueled by wood or gas.

David Morrison / 123 RF

Certificate of sweeping: obligatory!

After the intervention, the qualified professional issues you a chimney sweeping certificate required by the insurance company in the event of a disaster, a certificate that you will not be able to present if you do the sweeping yourself.

  • However, if you have all the equipment for sweeping , nothing prevents you from performing your own mechanical chimney sweeping, this can only be beneficial to your installation and your safety.
  • If you need a professional for your chimney, we can put you in touch with chimney sweeping companies. The price of a sweeping is between 50 and 90 €.


You will find on the market chemical products guaranteeing you a quality sweeping, some are even accompanied by certificate. Know that these documents have no value from insurers.

” Chimney sweeping is understood to mean cleaning by direct mechanical action of the inner wall of the flue, to remove soot and deposits and to ensure the emptiness of the duct over its entire length. (Article 31-6 of the RSDT)

But whose responsibility?

The sweeping obligation applies to the owner of the premises . However, the sweeping charges are the responsibility of the user of the chimney, and therefore generally included in rental charges.

Steps to sweep a chimney

Mechanical sweeping takes place fire extinguished. Precautions are to be taken not to mess around:

  • Empty the ashtray (if existing).
  • Remove the accessories present in the fireplace:
    • andirons;
    • cast iron plate;
    • smoke deflector.
  • Place a tarp or old sheet under the line or by the fireplace.
  • Ask a container (pan, large garbage bag, etc.) in the duct.
  • Introduce the hedgehog mounted on a pole in the conduit:
    • From above , remove the chimney cap and introduce the hedgehog for a few meters: scrape by insisting on the corked areas, then progress to the bottom of the duct.
    • From below , introduce the hedgehog mounted on one or two poles, clean the bottom of the conduit in a few movements back and forth then progress to the top by adding the rods as and when.
  • Once the hedgehog has been cleaned, scrape the mud walls with a brush or brush.
  • Empty the container and then carefully vacuum the soot debris.
  • Adjust the crown or hat if necessary, taking care to clean the grate beforehand against the intrusion of animals or dead leaves. Change it as needed.
  • Finish by cleaning the glass.

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Steps to sweep a stove pipe

This technique applies identically to a stove pipe. In this case, you will have to recover the bistre inside the stove or in the bottom of the first elbow behind your device (called inspection hatch), if your piping is equipped with it.

Problems encountered during mechanical sweeping

It is possible to encounter some problems in performing the sweeping operation:

  • The conduit forms elbows preventing the use of rods: Attach the hedgehog to two ropes: one will be operated from above, the other from below, you will force it to evolve in the conduit.
  • The pipe is too high for rods: Attach the hedgehog to two ropes: one will be operated from the top, the other from the bottom.
  • The bistre is deposited in the conduit , the hedgehog is inoperative
    • Burn a log of sweeping: it will soften the bistre that will leave more easily.
    • Call in a professional who will operate with the aid of a clerk .
  • The hedgehog is too big for the diameter of the duct: Shorten the hedgehog’s stems with the pincer.

Warning  : this operation is complicated because you intervene on the roof, hence the interest of calling a qualified professional, who will be equipped with the appropriate equipment for this intervention. Do not take any risk.

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