5 Tips for Preventing Chimney Fires

Chimney fires are more common than you may think.  Of course, there are the huge kind that involve emergency vehicles and sirens, but there also are the smaller kind that the homeowner never realizes are happening.  Any chimney fire can cause destruction – it’s just a matter of degrees.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent chimney fires or at least lessen the chances of them occurring. Here are five tips.

chimney cleaning, marietta gaHave your chimney properly cleaned

This is the absolute most important part of chimney maintenance and fire prevention.  CSIA-certified chimney sweeps have the right tools and training to properly clean your chimney and remove creosote, which is the cause of most chimney fires.

Chimney sweeping, as it’s called, involves scraping away flammable creosote buildups from the walls of your chimney liner.  Virtually all fire-safety and hearth organizations in the U.S. recommend annual chimney cleaning if you use a wood-burning fireplace or insert.

Create less smoke with your fires

Because it is condensed smoke that causes creosote to form, you want to produce as little smoke as possible.  This can be accomplished by:

  • Using only dry (seasoned) firewood, never damp
  • Burning mostly hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple and avoiding soft, smoky woods like pine, redwood and spruce
  • Burning only wood in the fireplace – never burn materials like finished wood, plastics, magazines, metals or anything else as these can create excess smoke and send dangerous toxins into your home

Keep a good draft in the house

For fire to happen, three things are needed: fire (like with a match or lighter), oxygen (air) and fuel (wood).  You surely have the match and the wood, but you may not have the air – or at least enough of it.

A house that’s very air-tight may not provide enough air to be sucked into the fireplace en route to the chimney.  When this happens, firewood burns sluggishly and produces a lot of smoke.  If this is a problem, try cracking a window somewhere in the house, preferably near the fireplace to create a draft.

Heatshield relining, atlanta gaMake sure your chimney liner isn’t cracked

Chimney liners can be made of stainless steel, clay tiles or a poured-in-place compound.  All varieties are designed to channel smoke up the flue and protect the interior masonry and parts of the home from fire damage.  An unlined or cracked chimney flue chimney offers no protection for your home.

A chimney liner won’t prevent chimney fires, but it can prevent a house fire by guarding surrounding areas should a fire start in the flue.


Have your chimney inspected once a year

Don’t neglect this important part of fireplace and chimney maintenance.  Schedule the services of a professional chimney inspector once a year to determine the condition of your chimney, the efficiency of venting/drafting and the level of creosote buildup.

An inspector also will find out if outside debris such as tree leaves and twigs, small-animal nests and dead small animals are inside your flue waiting to be used as fuel for a chimney fire.  (This debris also can cause smoke to draft sluggishly and back up into your home.)

Help for all your chimney issues

Chimney Solutions of Indianapolis provides the help you need to keep your chimney clean, safe and efficient.  We offer certified chimney cleaning, licensed chimney inspections and all manner of repair and rebuilding work.  Talk with a chimney expert today at (317) 757-6979.

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