Preventing a Chimney Fire

Injury, death, and innumerable material losses- chimney fires cause a lot of damage every year. In the United States Chimney Fires occur at an alarming rate, over 26,000 chimney fires account for over 125 million dollars in damage to residential property every year. Countless Injuries and even a few deaths result every year from dangerous chimney fires that spread to the structure of the home.

The number one cause of chimney fires is simply the buildup of “creosote” or gases that have clung to the sides of your flue and cooled off, creating a residue.

This creosote is highly flammable and though it won’t cause a problem for quite a while, if it is allowed to build up- you will almost definitely have a chimney fire on your hands. There is, however, a very simple solution to preventing this kind of chimney fire: annual chimney sweeping. Removing the creosote removes the risk.

ARC Chimney Sweeps of Atlanta, GA offers thorough chimney sweeping services and inspections that can prevent this and other types of chimney fires.

Recognizing a Chimney Fire

Burning a fire inside of your fireplace should be a calm and pleasant experience. The warmth, the quiet sounds- often, a chimney fire will be easy to recognize. The blaze will create a very loud, unnerving sound. This noise may sound much like that of a passing train. It is even possible to have had a chimney fire and not been aware of it. Fly ash and a charred chimney cap are signs of these kinds of fires.

Chimney fires may, then, be split into two categories: Slow Burning and Free Burning.

A Slow Burning fire is the quiet type. You probably won’t notice it immediately, if at all. These fires burn for a long time and are so hot that they deteriorate the structure of your chimney. Undetected, these fires may also set your house ablaze. This type of chimney fire’s potential for destruction should not be underestimated.

A Free Burning Fire is obvious and unmistakable. The flames are huge and the sound is powerful in it’s own right. This, of the two, is more immediately dangerous. The smoke accompanying the flames will be thick, providing another hazard for anyone near the fire.

Chimney fires may reach well over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. They are extremely dangerous and may even cause metals to melt.

What to do in case of a chimney fire:

Get yourself and everyone else out of harm’s way and immediately contact the fire department. These are very damaging and potentially deadly types of fires. Professional help will be needed.

Once the fire has been taken care of and everyone is safe- do not light another fire until your chimney has been inspected. Even if you just have signs of a small chimney fire- these are to be taken seriously. You will, almost inevitably, encounter a much more violent fire if no safety measures are taken.

The chimney inspection and sweeping process is painless and easy. ARC Chimney Sweeps of Atlanta, GA will work with you to give you exactly what you need to light a fire safely, before or after a chimney fire.

The first chimney fire is usually unnoticed. The second can be deadly.

Other Ways to Prevent a Chimney Fire:

  • Only burn completely dry wood. This type of firewood will sound hollow hit, it may have split or cracked naturally, and it’s color may have darkened. Drying wood naturally takes about 12 months. A moisture meter should, optimally, read 15 to 25 percent.
  • Never use gasoline or kerosene to start a fire. Choose kindling newspaper instead.
  • Don’t burn your trash- this includes wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, and yard waste (including branches or trees unless dried first. See above.)
  • Burn larger logs.

And, above all, get a regular chimney cleaning and inspection. The removal of creosote is vital to ensuring everyone’s safety.

How much can my chimney be damaged during a chimney fire?

This depends on the chimney in question. Different materials respond in different ways.

A Masonry Chimney will receive severe damage from most chimney fires. It may even collapse. In these types of chimneys, it is important to remember to keep an eye out for signs of a Slow Burning fire. The damage cause will be mainly interior and may go unnoticed until a much stronger fire takes hold.

Prefabricated Chimneys must pass factory and industry guidelines. They are tested, yes, but these tests do not hold a candle to what the materials will be exposed to during an actual chimney fire. These, too, will warp and eventually collapse. With these, it is incredibly important that the chimney’s liner is replaced once it has been exposed to a powerful fire.

ARC Chimney Sweeps of Atlanta, GA offers liner replacement and inspection services.

As you can see, chimney fires are very dangerous- but, in many cases, could have been prevented by a simple cleaning or inspection.

Call today and schedule an inspection- you won’t regret it later. (404) 994-4371