Coal fires generate a lot of fluffy soot, this can bung up a chimney very quickly.
Wood fires will not generate as much soot as coal but it does create a lot of tar and creosote. Both these substances are bad for your chimney or flue. Both are flammable and both corrosive. You know you have a problem when you get a bubbly looking crispy substance falling down the flue and into the stove. This is burnt or boiled creosote. They say that once you have a fire a chimney should be re-lined, whether it is a masonry chimney, a stainless-steel liner flex or solid, even pot liners and pumice systems. The heat from the fire can crack or damage any of these and their integrity cannot be trusted. Imagine the cost of this. All this can be avoidable by getting your chimney of flue swept at least once a year.
We issue a certificate with every single sweep, this is a must for your insurance company. If something was to happen to your chimney, the first question they would ask would be `when did you last have it swept` the second would be can you provide a certificate of sweeping.
Even if you do not use the fire from one year to the next, if you are thinking of lighting it you should have the chimney swept to check that it is not blocked. We carry tools for every eventuality, we have rotary kit for cleaning out flues ie flexi liners and we have traditional rods and brushes in all sizes for all manner of chimneys from the biggest of inglenooks down to little 9” square flues. We have soft brushes, medium and aggressive brushes.
We have an industrial vacuum cleaner. If you were to just use a henry say, soot is so fine, an element of it would get blown straight through the machine and back into the room which is obviously a health hazard and also in a day or two, when it settles, everything would be black. Everything that comes down the chimney gets contained within the fireplace or the stove, until safely vacuumed away.
Remember, it is important that you use a professional chimney sweep, you can get in touch with HETAS, the Government recognised body which approves services related to solid fuel heating appliances, including chimney sweeps.