HETAS or not HETAS?
It’s one of the biggest misunderstandings in the world of chimneys, fireplaces and solid fuel in general. In my experience customers think it; as well as solicitors, local councils, architects and even some product manufacturers. The "need" for HETAS paperwork to have your fireplace installed or even swept and serviced.
Do I need to have a HETAS registered person to install my stove or woodburner?
The short answer is ‘no’. You can of course have a HETAS registered installer do this for you if you wish, but there are other options.
The installation of a solid fuel appliance in a dwelling in England and Wales is governed by Building Regulations. Each installation should satisfy Approved Document J of the regulations and be signed off accordingly. Once signed off, your installation (stove/woodburner/open fire etc) is registered with your local council.
However, the government has adopted a ‘self certification’ process for solid fuel burning appliances in the home. This is delivered by various Competent Persons Schemes (CPS), as appointed by the government.This means that if you are a member of an officially recognised Competent Persons Scheme, you can ‘sign off’ an installation you completed without the need for a local council inspector to come around and check on it. HETAS is one such competent persons scheme for solid fuel installations.
But, there are others as well. These include (2021) OFTEC, APHC, BESCA, Certsure, NAPIT and Stroma.
So anyone who is registered with any of the above schemes can also install and subsequently sign off your installation. They are all the same in terms of building regulation sign offs and carry equal weighting.
Do I need a HETAS Approved Sweep to sweep and service my stove/woodburner/open fire?
Nope! Unlike installing, chimney sweeping and servicing is not governed by building regulations. Therefore, none of the CPS schemes has any jurisdiction whatsoever over chimney sweeping and don’t speak for chimney sweeps.
Who can I use to sweep my chimney and service my stove/fireplace?
The honest answer is, unless your insurance company or landlord specifies a certain organisation or qualification, then absolutely anybody. Again, sweeping and servicing of solid fuel appliances is not covered by building regulations so the same ‘rules’ don’t apply.
That said, there are a number of options available for those who want a professional to do it. Qualified Sweeps: These are holders of the only formal chimney sweeping qualification. This is a qualification for life. Details can be found here
Or members of any of the following chimney sweeping associations (these are subscriptions to annual memberships rather than qualifications. The list is not exhaustive): Association of Professional, Independent Chimney Sweeps, Chimney Sweep Academy, The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, Institute of Chimney Sweeps, National Association of Chimney Sweeps, National Chimney Sweeping Safety Association, Sweep Safe, Alternatively you could use a HETAS Approved Sweep.
They may or may not be a qualified sweep, and may or may not be a member of one of the above sweeping associations. Or you could legally choose someone who is not qualified or a member of any of the above.
Most industry professionals wouldn’t advise it, but it’s entirely up to you. It goes without saying that you should retain proof that your chimney has been swept, should you ever need to present it for any reason, such as an insurance claim.
As you can see, things aren’t always as they first seem. But a mis-understanding has sort of grown up and therefore it’s quite hard to decide what’s the correct thing to do.
And me: I am an NVQ Level 2 Qualified Chimney Sweep, initially trained via a City and Guilds accredited programme. Because it’s a lifetime qualification and – unlike others on this list – doesn’t rely on annual memberships!