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Does your Home Insurance cover winter disasters like Chimney Fires?

For the first time this year we’ve begun reaching for an extra layer of clothing, which means we’ll all soon be lighting the fires or dragging out the gas heaters. You probably haven’t  used these appliances for a good few months so they’ll need to be checked or serviced before you start feeling the warmth.

What are your insurance obligations if your house has a chimney?

  • It’s your responsibility to ensure that your chimney is constructed in accordance with the relevant SANS 10400 code of building practices, specifications and/or standards.
  • It’s your responsibility to arrange regular inspections and chimney maintenance.
  • It’s also your responsibility to have your chimney regularly cleaned by a professional.

Did you know: a chimney should be cleaned every 2 to 3 years, some even every year depending on how much you use your fire place. Apart from soot, birds or bees could also  have discovered a nice summer nesting places causing blockages, and you really don’t need smoke and soot all over your new white lounge suite.

We suggest you keep all proof of maintenance & cleaning as this could be requested by your insurer in the event of a claim.

How do chimney fires start?

The fuel used in a wood or coal stove, or in an open fire, is not always completely burnt. While these unburned volatiles become hot enough to be transformed into vapour, they are not totally consumed due to an inadequate level of oxygen and heat. Once these volatiles are in the chimney, they cool and are deposited in tar-like substances and soot.

Left unchecked, these layers can build up until the entire flue is blocked, or until a point where the materials catch fire.

Carbon monoxide (CO) risk

When any fuel is burned it produces carbon monoxide (CO). This colourless, odourless gas can be highly toxic to humans. When a chimney flue becomes blocked, CO may be unable to escape, returning to the inside of the property and putting you at risk. CO poisoning can kill, so alongside good chimney maintenance, installing a carbon monoxide detector is also highly recommended.

When insurers refuse to pay out …

If you need to make a claim following a chimney fire, you should be aware that some insurers will not pay out if it can be proved that your chimney was not sufficiently maintained – i.e. blocked with soot and creosote.

It’s always best to check if you’re properly covered and in compliance with your policy’s terms and conditions so give us a call on 044 382 0550 or drop us an e-mail should you have any questions or concerns.

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