Half a million unused fireplaces worry cleaners

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Facts: Fireplaces in Sweden

In Sweden, there are approximately 2.3 million registered fireplaces, according to Sweden’s National Association of Smokers.

The majority, around two million, of them are comfort fires such as wood stoves, fireplaces, wood stoves and tile stoves. The rest are fireplaces whose main purpose is heating, such as oil boilers, chip boilers or other boiler systems.

The municipalities keep control registers of fireplaces that are in use. The respective sweeping district is responsible for sweeping and fire safety checking all fireplaces in the control register according to established time intervals.

It is the property owner’s responsibility to register fireplaces that are in use.

According to the Swedish Agency for Community Preparedness and Preparedness (MSB), approximately 30 percent of all fires in villas, semi-detached and terraced houses and holiday homes are fireplace-related.

Sources: SSR, MSB

In Sweden, there are over two million fireplaces in use. In addition, according to MSB’s national register, there are 600,000 which for one reason or another have been registered as unused and therefore not checked by cleaners.

This also includes properties that have been demolished, oil boilers that have long since been removed and plugged tiled stoves, notes Lars Anderman, CEO of the industry organization Sweden’s Chimney Sweepers Riksförbund, SSR.

— On the other hand, there is a dark record of fireplaces that have never been registered. I would estimate that the real number of unused fireplaces is somewhere around half a million, he says.

All types

The unused and unregistered fireplaces are found in all types of buildings – summer houses, villas and attics in the inner cities of big cities.

“There is a flora of old boilers, wood-burning stoves and tiled stoves that you can imagine people trying to put into use,” says Lars Anderman.

If you consider the previously neglected wood stove or tile stove as a way to reduce the electricity bill, it is, according to Lars Anderman, of great importance to first check that it can – and can – be used.

An example that can cause this is a bird’s nest in the flue, which causes the smoke to turn back into the property. Another is that the chimney is old and has cracked.

— If you start a roaring fire, there is a risk of fire spreading in the property or smoke leaking into spaces where you sleep. In the worst case, you do not notice that the carbon dioxide level is increasing, and then it is a danger to life.

Risk to neighbors

For apartment dwellers, there is also the risk of smoke spreading to other apartments connected to the same chimney.

— If there are leaks in the chimney, you have a high risk of poisoning damage, above all. If you light a fire in a villa, you will notice if smoke comes in. You don’t have that control in multi-family buildings in the same way, says Johan Schön, technical advisor at SSR.

The demand for sweepers has increased sharply during the autumn and in many places the waiting time is several months. Anyone who does not know about their fireplace should initially contact the municipality, which keeps a register of approved fireplaces.

— If, for example, you have bought the property recently and are unsure, you should check first. It can be controlled and cleaned, then you avoid incurring costs and calling the attention of the cleaner, says Lars Anderman.

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