Preventing Chimney Fires


Imagine this scene: You are sitting in your family room, enjoying food and fun with family and friends. Suddenly, you notice a crackling and popping sound, and smoke starts rolling out of your chimney. It’s a chimney fire! As terrifying as this sounds, this type of chimney fire can occur. However, this isn’t normally how a chimney fire presents itself. In fact, most chimney fires actually go undetected. A chimney fire can be a major occurrence or barely noticeable. Either way, both types of fire can cause major damage. This is why it’s important to do your research! Know what causes a chimney fire. In addition, know how to prevent this scenario from becoming a reality.

Preventing Chimney Fires Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepCauses of a Chimney Fire

The number one cause of chimney fires is creosote build-up. Creosote is a by-product of burning wood in your fireplace. When wood burns, by-products are released. These include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, and tar fog. These are released up your chimney and hits the cooler walls of the chimney. Afterwards, it sticks to the sides and forms a black or brown sticky crust. This crust is creosote, a highly flammable material.

There are some conditions that cause creosote to build up more quickly. Using unseasoned wood is one contributing factor. Fires using unseasoned wood don’t burn as hot. They also burn smoky and cause creosote to build up more quickly. According to Montana Homesteader, if you use a harder wood, you’ll get a hotter fire. This helps prevent creosote build-up. Additionally, if you use a wood stove, don’t overload the firebox. Doing so will also cause a thicker build-up of creosote. Building smaller, hotter fires on a frequent basis is a great way to help minimize creosote build-up.
It may be tempting to get rid of some of your paper trash by burning it in your fireplace. However, this is not a good idea. These items are not meant to be burned in this manner! Consequently, burning these items sparks a chimney fire.

Cleaning the Creosote

So, what is the best preventative measure you can take when it comes to preventing a chimney fire? Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. As stated on the CSIA website, “Clean chimneys don’t catch fire.” Trusting your annual inspection to a CSIA certified sweep such as those at Pozzi Chimney Service will ensure that the job is done correctly. Another benefit of hiring a CSIA certified sweep? They will assess any damage that your chimney has sustained over the course of the winter. Also, they’ll recommend necessary repairs. Since all chimney fires aren’t always easily detectable, a CSIA certified chimney sweep will be able to tell you if a fire has taken place. Plus, explain what repairs need to take place or whether a rebuild is necessary.

Be Worry Free

Although chimney fires are a very real worry, you can take steps to ensure that your family will not be put at risk. Be sure to have your chimney inspected yearly!  Then sit back and enjoy worry free evenings in front of a relaxing, crackling fire.