A recent house fire in Avon, Indiana may have been caused by the use of an un-inspected chimney (for more information, click here). Luckily, no one was harmed, but the house sustained some damage. In light of this event, we wanted to provide a refresher on chimney fires and chimney fire prevention. If you own a fireplace, stove or insert, it is important to understand the related risks and safety measures. We hope this blog post helps you to practice fireplace safety and protect your home and family from chimney fires.

What exactly is a chimney fire?

A chimney fire occurs when creosote residues in the flue are reignited. Creosote is a tar-like substance that sticks to the sides of flues; it is an unavoidable byproduct of wood burning. Creosote is a highly flammable substance, and it will inevitably build up in your chimney. If preventative measures are not taken, the creosote could ignite and start a high heat (up to 2000°F) chimney fire that could cause serious damage to your home.

Can you tell when a chimney fire has started?

Sometimes. Chimney fires can be dramatic with loud popping noises, thick smoke and a pungent smell. Unfortunately, though, the majority of chimney fires are much more subtle and therefore go undetected. Slow-burning chimney fires reach the same high temperatures without the telltale noise and smoke. These fires silently cause serious damage to your chimney structure and the surrounding areas of your home.

If you can’t detect it, how can you stop it?

The key to avoiding chimney fires is prevention, prevention, prevention! If you take the appropriate precautionary measures, you will be able to use your fireplace regularly without worry. High levels of creosote, restricted air supply and unseasoned wood exacerbate the problem. There are three key preventative ways to avoid these fires: regular inspections, appropriate fuel use and detector installations.

Annual Inspections

The fire department recommends that owners have their fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a certified chimney sweep. This is not an unnecessary service; it is crucial safety maintenance. A certified chimney sweep can regularly remove creosote residue and any other blockages so that the build-up does not become unsafe. These specialists will ensure that your chimney is clean, functional and safe for use. Set up a sweep with your local Brick + Ember Outfitters today.

Fuel Use

Unseasoned wood can create greater-than-normal creosote build-up. Choose hardwoods like oaks and maples, and avoid sappy pines. Be sure that your wood has dried and cured completely before burning.

Install Detectors

Install carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke detectors in your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, and a leak could have serious consequences for you and your property. Use all the tools at your disposal to prevent and detect fires.

Your fireplace should bring you joy; it should be an asset to your home, not a liability. We are not trying to frighten you from ever using your fireplace again. We want you to be able to use your fireplace regularly, and so we want you, and every homeowner, to be informed and safe. Brick + Ember Outfitters can help you prevent chimney fires and secure peace of mind. Let us inspect and clean your chimney, so you can enjoy the use of it without worry.