Chimney Tips to Keep Your Family Warm...and Safe
What causes chimney fires?
The build-up of creosote along the chimney lining walls can facilitate the start of a chimney fire. All fires create soot and residue build-up, especially wood burning fireplaces and stoves. This build-up is caused by the unburned materials in the smoke accumulating along the chimney walls and creating a sticky substance that can easily catch fire. The smoke from the fire contains a substance similar to tar and when the temperatures within the chimney are below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance will condense along the chimney surface. When the temperature drops below 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance turns into a dark, sticky substance that is also highly flammable.
A chimney that is dirty, blocked or is in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable.
Maintenance - Good maintenance is a very important step in preventing chimney fires!
- Have your chimney checked annually by a qualified chimney professional.
- Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods.
- Start fires with clean newspaper or dry kindling – Gasoline or kerosene should never be used to start a fire.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper or your Christmas tree.
- Keep the area in front of the fireplace clear of paper and debris. It can be tempting during the holidays to place decorations close to the fireplace but keep them at a safe distance.
- If your fireplace doesn't have a glass door, use a wire mesh screen.
- Install a chimney cap.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Have your chimney sweep ensure that your chimney has an appropriate liner.
- Following a violent storm, earthquake, flood or lightning strike, have your chimney inspected for damage - inside and out.
Prevention - Remember prevention is your best defense against fire. If you have a wood or coal stove, be sure it is installed at least 36 inches away from the wall. Keep combustible materials well away from the stove and chimney connector. Place an approved stove board under the unit to protect the floor from heat and hot coals which might drop out.