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How to Prevent a Chimney Fire

Chimney fires are a frightening experience for homeowner who burns wood, causing serious damage to chimney or even causing injury and death.

Giving Peace Of Mind One Chimney At A Time.”
— Robin Wells
PENETANGUISHENE, ONTARIO, CANADA, November 14, 2017 / -- There are two types of chimney fires that can happen, one that burns freely or one that is slow burning. The freely burning chimney fires are easy to detect due to the loud roar they cause along with the billowing smoke and flames pouring out of chimney. However, both are bad and the slow burning fires are silent and destructive, burning quietly at high temperatures for long periods of time. While slow burning fires may appear less dangerous they can cause serious damage to your chimney due to the high temperatures involved and even can catch other parts of your home on fire. Either type of chimney fire can cause serious damage even if contained to your chimney, reaching temperatures of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.

These temperatures can damage clay tiles, bricks and even the prefabricated factory built chimneys. These high temperatures can collapse, distort or even split the metal liner in your chimney. Temperatures this high can cause structural damage to a masonry chimney, cracking mortar, bricks and stone or causing the chimney liner to break or collapse.

It is the serious damage caused by the chimney fire that puts the rest of your home at risk, the chimney which is designed to contain the heat and flue gases is now potentially compromised.

If you do have a chimney fire, get everybody out of home and call 911 immediately. You can help by spraying water from your garden hose while waiting for the fire department. After a fire a professional Certified Chimney Sweep should examine your chimney with at least a Level 2 inspection - and possibly a Level 3 is required. This is critical to as assess the damage and determine what if anything in your chimney needs to be repaired, if parts are cracked, warped or if it is safe to use. During inspections we have a camera designed for chimney inspection which can be used to confirm or verify integrity of the chimney after a fire has occured.

What causes a chimney fire? Most often chimney fires are caused by creosote deposits which have built up over time. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that is a by-product of incomplete wood combustion and is created when the combustible flue gasses in the smoke come in contact with cooler surfaces in your chimney and form condensation on the walls of your chimney. If you do not have your chimney cleaned it will become a fire hazard and/or eventually plugged - in fact many of the times a chimney is blocked due to creosote is the result of a chimney fire. Fact is that the more creosote in any given chimney the more likely it is to catch fire. Once sufficient oxygen and heat reach the creosote, it will ignite causing a potentially serious chimney fire. In chimneys with small deposits, the risk is low, however in chimneys containing large amounts of creosote the fire can burn for significant periods causing great damage.

How do I prevent a chimney fire? Well I have heard it time and again in the Midland and Penetanguishene area, a hot burn once in a while will get rid of the creosote and then I don't need to clean the chimney. Well that is a myth for sure - and while hot burns were prescribed for the early air-tight stoves it was not to eliminate the need of chimney sweeping.

Fact is that the majority of chimney fires can be prevented by reducing the buildup of creosote in your chimney and having your chimney annually cleaned out and inspected by a Certified Chimney Sweep. Yes Certified Chimney Sweep - unfortunately there are some going around claiming to clean chimneys without proper training, education and understanding of what needs to be done and why.

But burning properly can also help. Only burn properly seasoned firewood as green wood due to the physics involved will generate more creosote producing smoke. Only use dry newspaper or proper kindling to start a fire. Never use gasoline, kerosene or bbq lighters not designed to light wood fires inside. Only use natural unadulterated firewood, never any wood that has been stained, glued or painted. Never burn cardboard, wrapping paper, or trash because these can also contribute to creosote buildup.

Burning properly and reducing the amount of creosote that builds up each burning season is the first step to chimney fire prevention.

The second step is to hire a Professional Certified Chimney Sweep after each burning season to clean out the creosote that has accumulated and to fully inspect your chimney.

Remember, there are benefits to having a chimney sweep immediately at the end of the burning season or during the summer months.

Who is best to clean a wood chimney? It should be ONLY performed by a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep or Advanced Chimney Sweep. At RAW Chimney Sweep and Inspections you get only Certified Advanced Chimney Sweeps or Certified Chimney Sweeps helping you. Check our website for more information at or to book a chimney sweep and inspection service at .

Robin Wells
RAW Chimney Sweep and Inspections
email us here

Distribution channels: Consumer Goods, Environment, Science