Reader Question: How much should we expect to pay to get a chimney cleaned in France and is it an insurance obligation?
It is obligatory to get your chimneys cleaned in France with the exact number of times you must do it each year set out in a departmental decree. You can find further information from your local mairie.
In general, the rules are as follows (they may vary depending on commune):
For oil-fired, wood or coal fireplaces, chimneys should be cleaned twice a year. Chimneys for gas fireplaces should be cleaned once a year.
Not getting your chimney/s properly cleaned can lead, in theory, to a fine of up to €450.
These rules apply both to traditional fireplaces and chimneys and to installations such as woodburning stoves.
Sweeping chimneys for wood heaters
It currently costs on average €60 to €100 to clean chimneys for wood fireplaces, according to French information magazine Merci Pour l’Info (formerly Dossier Familial).
Cleaning the chimney helps to avoid creating a build up of carbon monoxide and also helps with energy efficiency.
The French agency promoting greener living and energy use, Ademe, states that a one millimetre layer of soot in the chimney can increase the consumption of wood by 10%.
Removing bistre from chimneys for wood heaters
In some cases, a substance called bistre can build up on the inner walls of chimneys. This tar-like, hard material is formed by a mixture of combustion residues and soot. In large enough quantities it can cause a fire in the chimney flue. Removing this substance, called débistrage, costs at least €200.
Gas and oil-fired fireplaces
Getting these fireplaces serviced and cleaned can cost around €100 to €130, while getting the chimney cleaned costs around €40 to €60.
Companies prices must be displayed
Chimney cleaning companies must have Qualibat certification and are required to display the cost of their jobs on their website. They also need to provide a quote before carrying out any job.
Obtain a certificate
The worker should give you a certificate afterwards, confirming that the chimney has been swept. Keep this as, in the event of an accident such as the chimney catching fire, your insurance could be invalidated if the insurer thinks it was due to poor maintenance.