How Some Chimney Fires go Unnoticed and Why They are Still Dangerous

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Fireplaces and chimneys help to provide much needed winter warmth, but there are potential dangers that professional chimney sweeps always talk about. Regular maintenance not only improves efficiency, it also plays a big role in preventing fires. It is not a pleasant thing to think about, but many people face this reality each year.

Even a small fire can cause a lot of damage before you get it under control, but you can have small chimney fires without even noticing. The heat will be vented through the top of the chimney, so a small fire can easily escape your attention. Luckily, these fires will still leave signs behind that a chimney sweep will spot during an inspection. These signs include:

  • Damage to the metal damper – dampers do a good job of withstanding heat due to normal chimney function, but even a small fire can cause warping over time
  • The heat produced by the fire can leave cracks in the masonry
  • Creosote that has a puffy appearance
  • Blackened mortar joints
  • Damage to the flue tiles – this can appear as small cracks or broken pieces
  • The heat from the fire can cause damage to your roof
  • Discoloration of the chimney cap
  • Damage to the chamber connecter pipe

The chimney will still function as it should, but this damage could render it non-compliant. An inspection will find flaws in the chimney structure, and we will know which repairs are needed. Sometimes the damage is extensive, but you may be lucky enough to only need minor repairs.

You can stay ahead of this risk by opting for regular cleaning. The removal of creosote will ensure that the chimney is safe for use in even a long winter season. It also helps to understand what kind of environment causes creosote to develop faster. Aside from an inadequate cleaning schedule, other factors that lead to rapid buildup of this residue include:

  • Using unseasoned wood in the fireplace
  • Using artificial logs
  • A blockage in the chimney
  • Poor air circulation in the home

When you contact a chimney sweep for an inspection or cleaning, you will know whether you had small fires in the chimney. However, if you think there might have been a fire at some point, do not wait to call us for an inspection. Talk to one of our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps about ways to keep your chimney clean and tips for improving efficiency.

Lou Curley Chimney Service is located in Drexel Hill and we provide all types of chimney services throughout the Main Line. Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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