How to Prevent these 5 Common Chimney Dangers
Chimney liner damage, excess creosote, chimney fires, drafting obstructions, and mold growth – these common problems can make your chimney unsafe to use and live around. Here’s what you need to know about these chimney dangers and how to prevent them.
1. Damage to the chimney flue
The flue that channels smoke and toxins from the fireplace to the outside air is prone to various sorts of damages. Flue liners, whether clay, stainless steel, or poured-in-place can become compromised and allow intense heat to begin degrading the internal chimney masonry.
Cracked or broken chimney liners also may send dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide into your home. Carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible, but it is potentially fatal when absorbed into the bloodstream of humans and pets.
Annual chimney inspections will tell you the condition of your flue and what repairs, if any, are needed to get it back into shape.
2. Creosote buildup
Another issue inside the chimney flue is the buildup of flammable creosote, a byproduct of burning wood. Creosote forms every time you use your fireplace and clings to the walls of the chimney liner.
Creosote is responsible for most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. Whether sticky, puffy, or solid, creosote can be safely removed only by a professional chimney sweep.
Along with the potential for combustion, creosote is highly acidic and can begin a cycle of damage to the chimney liner and any other surfaces it remains in contact with.
3. Chimney fires
A full-on creosote-fueled chimney fire is clearly a catastrophe. But not all chimney fires are big and obvious – some start and go out on their own. These smaller fires can damage the chimney liner and internal chimney masonry without the homeowner even knowing a fire is happening.
Signs of a chimney fire include:
- Large amounts of dense smoke coming from the top of the chimney or the firebox
- The sound of rumbling like from a train in the distance
- An odd tapping or clicking noise coming from the fireplace or chimney.
If you notice any of these signs, call 911 immediately and extinguish the fire in the firebox, if you can do so safely.
4. Draft obstructions
Leaves, twigs, falling fruit, and other tree debris as well as the nesting materials of small animals eventually can narrow your flue passage and cause smoke to draft sluggishly.
Nobody likes smoke backing up into the home, but the most serious concern is the carbon monoxide, which we mentioned above, that comes with the smoke.
In addition, an obstructed flue makes it harder to start fires and keep them burning robustly due to reduced air getting into the combustion area.
Lack of exposure to the sun and air allow moisture from condensation to remain in the flue for long periods and can lead to a dangerous outbreak of mold. Once present, mold spores can travel down into your home, putting the health of everyone at risk.
Your chimney inspector can tell you if you have a mold issue. A regular chimney cleaning will reduce the growth of flue mold. For serious infestations, you will need to consult a mold remediation professional.
If it’s time to have an expert look at your chimney, Chimney Solutions is ready to help. We provide CSIA-certified chimney sweep services, annual chimney inspections, and all types of repair and rebuilding work. Call us today at (770) 255-1300.