So, you’ve heard the warnings about how important it is to clean and maintain your fireplace. You’ve maybe even heard talk of chimney fires and the damage they can do. But how exactly do these disasters start? What triggers them and what exactly can be done to prevent them?
Well, we’re here to give you the lowdown on it all. At The Chimney Doctor, there isn’t anything we take more seriously than the health and safety of your home and fireplace. That’s why we’re here to address any concerns and questions you may be experiencing!
Call today to speak with a member of our team or, if you’re in need of an appointment, reach out either over the phone or through our website. We’d love the chance to help you out soon!
What to Know About Creosote
So, the biggest cause of chimney fires is creosote buildup within the chimney itself. What is creosote? Well, not all creosote is created equal, but all forms are flammable and should be removed regularly. Creosote usually looks either light and flaky, tar-like and sticky, or hard and glazed. Each type needs to be addressed differently, so getting a CSIA-certified sweep on the job is always a must.
How does creosote form? Well, as your fires burn, all of the gases and substances that form throughout the process – think smoke, water vapor, tar fog, and more – trigger condensation as they flow up your chimney. The leaves you with sticky residue that clings to your walls (aka creosote).
Now unfortunately, the formation of creosote isn’t something you can altogether avoid. What you can avoid, though, is a lot of excess buildup. Which is great because the more creosote you have the higher your chances are of experiencing those dreaded chimney fires.
Preventing Creosote Accumulation
What’s the best way to avoid creosote accumulation? Inspections and sweepings! This is a big reason why we urge homeowners to schedule an inspection before every burning season. It gives us the opportunity to see where your creosote levels are, in which case we can get that sweeping completed before you start lighting fires for the season. But that’s not all you can do. Follow these guidelines when operating your fireplace down the line:
- Warm your flue before starting a fire. This can be done by taking a rolled up newspaper, lighting the end, then holding it in your flue until the draft reverses. This extra step slows down the condensation that occurs when those warm fumes from your fireplace hit your cold chimney.
- Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood. All wood should have a moisture content of 20 – 25%. This means letting it dry out for at least six months in a dry, well-ventilated area. If you’re buying wood, look for pieces that are dark and split at the end, shorter in length, lightweight, and make a hollow “clunk” noise when smacked together.
- Avoid poor air flow. Needless to say, proper draft is essential for proper fireplace functioning, but it’s important for reducing creosote deposits, too.
- Open your damper. A damper that’s open wide will offer plenty of oxygen to ensure your fire is burning hotter, cleaner, and more efficiently.
Signs of a Chimney Fire
One thing we always want to urge customers to be wary of is the fact that it isn’t always obvious when or if a chimney fire has occurred. Most assume if an event of this nature happened in their home there would be no way to be oblivious to it, but in actuality the majority of chimney fires go undetected. This means countless homeowners have put their fireplace to use, not realizing they are putting themselves at risk by doing so!
Needless to say, knowing the signs of a chimney fire can be extremely beneficial when it comes to keeping your home and family safer. Keep an eye out for the following, and be sure to reach out to a professional if you have any concerns at all:
- Puffy or honeycombed creosote
- Warped metal components
- Cracked/damaged flue tiles
- Heat/fire damage throughout your roofing materials
- Chunks of creosote outside of the chimney (these can be driven out due to the intense levels of heat)
- Cracking throughout your masonry
Also, if you’re using your fireplace and notice smoke entering the home, less heat output, inefficiency, or any other signs that something is amiss, immediately put out the fire and stop using the system until an expert can take a look.
Give Our Team a Call Today
The Chimney Doctor is known for serving Grand Junction homeowners with honesty and integrity. If you’d like to work with our CSIA-certified sweeps, be sure to reach out today – we’ll give you the care and attention you deserve through it all!