Chimney fires cause many houses to burn down each year. In many cases, if the homeowner had called a chimney sweep and had the chimney cleaned, the fire could have been prevented.
Chimney cleaning helps prevent chimney fires, and anyone with an active, wood-burning wood stove or fireplace in their home can go a long way toward avoiding disaster by having their chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
Why Chimneys Catch on Fire
When wood burns and the gases and smoke exit through the chimney, a layer of creosote begins to stick to the inside of the chimney. Creosote is an oily byproduct of wood burning, and it is highly flammable. When a thick layer is present, the heat from the fire can cause it to ignite, and then you have a fire burning inside the chimney.
If this happens, you may hear a roaring sound in the chimney, or if you have a metal flue, it may turn red with the heat. If this happens, close the fireplace dampers if possible, and call 911.
How Do You Know if a Chimney Needs Cleaning
Signs of a dirty chimney include:
- Poor draw of air and smoke up the chimney,
- Black, crumbly debris falling out of the chimney into the wood stove or fireplace,
- Smoke backing up into the house,
- Strong, burning smell.
You can help prevent excessive creosote build-up by only burning well-seasoned firewood. Unseasoned, wet wood contains more creosote than seasoned wood, and burning paper or trash also adds to excessive creosote build-up. Some species of wood, such as pine, also contain more creosote than other types of wood. So, if you burn high-creosote containing firewood, have your chimney cleaned more often.
Regular chimney cleaning is an essential part of safely using a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Ignoring this maintenance task can lead to disaster.
Contact us for more information about chimney cleaning, inspection, and repair.
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