Chimney fires can do a lot of interior damage not just to chimneys but also to the surrounding house – especially if it is a big fire.
However, not all chimney fires are large and conspicuous; many begin, burn for a brief period of time, and then extinguish themselves. These fires that you may not even be aware of can cause damage that makes the next fire even more severe.
No matter how big it is or how long it lasts, a chimney fire can start a chain reaction of destruction that needs to be stopped as quickly as possible.
For instance, the chimney liner and the internal brickwork of the chimney can sustain damage from chimney fires, which are typically initiated when built-up creosote catches fire in the chimney flue.
Bricks and mortar may become loose and split as a result, enabling water to enter and eventually causing significant damage to the chimney, roof, and structure of the house.
Then the next time there is a fire, nearby housing components like walls and insulation may be at risk as a result of chimney fires that destroy the liners.
Other Common Causes of Chimney Damage & Chimney Fires
In addition to Creosote Build-Up, there are other frequent causes of chimney damage and chimney fires and some of them are:
Chimney construction error
Over time, damage from a chimney that was designed incorrectly can take many different forms.
Common indicators of a chimney with inadequate construction include: too shallow or narrow of a footing, unstable ground beneath the footing, and chimney flue size and chimney height are incorrect.
Examples include bricks and mortar of poor quality that are prone to cracking and moving, poor quality or poorly installed chimney liner, poor quality smoke chambers, and insufficient sealing.
Even a little leak can result in extensive harm to the entire chimney system. Many leaning or collapsing chimneys had leak problems in the brickwork, chimney crown, or other parts to start with.
Bricks will eventually be destroyed by water, and it can cause serious mold and rotting problems with neighboring home construction components.
8 Tips for Avoiding a Chimney Fire
A chimney fire has the potential to seriously harm (and even destroy) a chimney or a house. It’s crucial to comprehend how to avoid chimney fires because there are numerous fires that start in or around the chimney every year that result in building damage or fatalities.
Here are 8 tips that can help you avoid a damaging chimney fire:
Tip #1: Annual chimney inspections
Both the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) advise having your chimney professionally cleaned, inspected, and repaired on an annual basis to avoid chimney fires.
What ought to be covered by a qualified cleaning and examination? Clean the interior of the flue, the smoke chamber, the smoke shelf, and the firebox by sweeping away any loose soot and creosote, animal nesting materials, and other debris.
Tip #2: Burn dry, seasoned firewood
Burn wood that has been split, chopped, and stored for six to twelve months. To aid in drying the wood, there must to be room around the stack.
When properly cured, firewood has a moisture level of about 20%, according to a moisture meter. Due to shrinkage and moisture evaporation, split, cured wood will have fissures on the ends.
As a rule, less dense, dry woods like birch, poplar, or any of the evergreen woods will cure faster than more dense woods like oak, elm, maple, and ash.
Tip #3: Know your wood-burning stove or fireplace
Always familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions. Learn how to regulate the stove’s or fireplace’s combustion air intake, for example.
Make sure there is enough air for burning in your appliance. Tip: Keep an eye on any glass that is on the front of your stove or fireplace (a smoldering, smoke-filled fire produces creosote). Smoke streaks on the glass typically indicate that you are not burning hot enough.
Tip #4: Know how hot your stove or fireplace typically burns
Place a magnetic thermometer on your stove or connecting pipe, if you can.
The ideal range for a surface thermometer to measure the temperature of the stove or pipe is between 300 and 500 degrees.
Using a probe thermometer to detect temperature is preferable (more accurate). The ideal temperature range is between 600 and 1000 degrees, and this device detects the core temperature of the flue gases moving up the pipe.
The simplest method of preventing creosote formation is to be aware of how hot you are burning and to burn at the ideal temperature.
Tip #5: Control the size of your fire
Burning less wood in the spring or fall than in the middle of the winter will save you money. The fire may need to be fed more regularly, however.
If the heat output from your stove or fireplace is excessive, you can limit the air intake, which will cause the device to starve for oxygen, smoke, and smolder. One of the causes of creosote formation is a lack of oxygen.
Tip #6: Avoid using liquid accelerants
Another one of our safety tips for you would be to avoid the use of liquid accelerants is another prevention suggestion for chimney fires. When used to ignite a fire, substances like gasoline, kerosene or lighter fluid might result in an out-of-control inferno. Never put these in a fireplace or wood stove. There are numerous accessible safer fire starters.
Tip #7: Use only treated wood in a wood-burning fireplace or stove
Every year, we hear stories of people who lit their chimneys on fire while burning such household items as paper plates, wrapping paper, or cardboard boxes in their fireplaces or stove. This is a bad idea since it might set off a huge, blazing fire.
Tip #8: Know how to put out a chimney fire
To burn, fire needs oxygen. Extinguishers put out fires by removing the oxygen. Have a Class ABC fire extinguisher handy for your wood stove or fireplace.
In order to avoid a chimney flare, there are also “flare-type” chimney fire extinguishers available. They function best in airtight systems.