Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Chimneys and flues



Chimney and flue systems are an integral part of the structure, function and look of traditional buildings.

Ventilation is an important function of the chimney system, even when no fire is lit. Keeping the chimney and flue open even where the fireplace isn’t in use will help to prevent damp.

It's easy to overlook chimney inspections as upper level roof elements are difficult to access. But their exposed position, along with the heat and corrosive nature of flue gases, puts chimneys at great risk of damage.

Common causes of problems with chimneys and flues include loose chimney cans, open joints, stone decay, flue problems and draughts. Such issues mean that a chimney generally needs to be rebuilt every 100 years or so.

Chimney maintenance and repairs will help to ensure the:

  • integrity of the building fabric
  • safety of those using the building
  • safety of passers-by who may be at risk of falling masonry – particularly in extreme weather

A flue should be swept at least once a year if the original fireplace is in use. This helps to reduce the risk of a chimney fire.

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