We all love the ability to relax with friends and family around a glowing, crackling fire on a cool evening. What we don’t always think of is the potential of a chimney fire that would effectively put all of our friends and family, and the structure of our home at risk. A chimney fire can be caused by several different things. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) have some great information on preventing chimney fires. So today we’re going to go over some preventable things that cause chimney fires every single year.

The NFPA states that the leading cause of house fires is the chimney, the fireplace, a wood burning stove, or other heat-producing appliance. Fires that begin in the chimney are often the result of creosote buildup. Here are some tips for limiting creosote buildup and preventing related dangers:

  • Burn only well-seasoned wood. Choose hard woods when possible.
  • Never burn trash or things other than wood in the fireplace or wood stove.
  • Sweep the chimney at least once per year. The CSIA recommends once per year with occasional use and at least twice per year with regular use.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep at least once per year for an official inspection.

Cleaning the chimney is a very messy job that requires the ability to get on the roof and stand there comfortably while cleaning. Not all homeowners are comfortable with heights, and would much rather leave that process to someone who doesn’t mind climbing onto the roof. Creosote is relatively easy to brush out of the chimney as long as it hasn’t been baked on for years. Stubborn, thick creosote that has hardened into a glaze requires special tools to remove it without damaging the interior of the flue.

Blockages in the chimney are another cause of house fires that start within the chimney. Birds and small animals often seek refuge in the safety of the chimney during winter months or if they’re being stalked by predators. They build their nests within the chimney and the resulting blockage ends up catching a few sparks and burning away, resulting in a chimney fire.

You may perform an inspection on your own by shining a very bright flashlight up the chimney to see if you see anything blocking the view to the outside. Any blockage, regardless of size, presents a danger to your home and its occupants. Even a small blockage or damage to the flue prevents smoke and carbon monoxide from escaping as intended. This allows smoke and CO2 to enter your home and put your entire household at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Call Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a chimney cleaning or inspection. We’re located in Drexel Hill, PA and provide all types of chimney services to the surrounding areas. We will make sure that your chimney and wood burning appliance are working as intended.