Dealing With The Dangers Of Chimney Fires

Home & Garden Blog

Chimney fires are no laughing matter, as they cause an estimated $125 million dollars of damage every year. If you're concerned about the dangers of chimney fires in your home, you need to understand the types that can occur and the ways that you can prevent them.

Types of Chimney Fires

There are two different types of chimney fires, sorted by whether or not they occur in the flue of the chimney: internal hostile fires and external hostile fires. Both are caused by creosote buildup, but identifying them can help you gauge the seriousness of the problem.

An internal hostile chimney fire is fueled by a buildup of combustible creosote in the flue of your fireplace. It can burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and is extremely dangerous to your home. A loud gush of air coming out of your fireplace usually indicates this type of fire.

Sometimes, internal fires burn quickly when there are high levels of oxygen and fuel, but other times they burn slowly when these substances are more limited. Often, residue of the fire is expelled out of the top of the chimney and spread around your yard.

An external (or escaped) hostile chimney fire is one that occurs outside of the flue system. They are easier to spot than internal fires, because flames and smoke should be noticeable through the fireplace. The flames from an external fire can spread beyond your fireplace and damage other areas of your home. This makes them more noticeably dangerous than internal fires, though those fires can break apart the tiles in your chimney and spread.

Ways to Prevent Chimney Fires

Preventing chimney fires requires following a few simple guidelines, which include:

  • Cleaning your chimney regularly: inspect your fireplace for creosote buildup at least twice a month during heavy burning seasons. A quarter-inch of creosote needs to be cleaned immediately.
  • Keeping your fireplace at the manufacturer-recommended temperature: burning at too low of a temperature will cause more creosote, while too high will damage the structure of the chimney.
  • Never burning trash: items such as cardboard, newspapers, and Christmas trees cause sparks that can ignite creosote buildup in your flue.

Sweeping a Chimney

Breaking apart the creosote in your chimney is one of the most effective ways to prevent chimney fires from forming. And breaking creosote apart requires a good sweeping. The moment you have found creosote buildup of a quarter-inch or thicker in your chimney, sweep it by following these simple steps:

  1. Place a tarp on the floor of the room with your fireplace.
  2. Tape a plastic cover over the front to help prevent spillage into the room.
  3. Climb to the top of your roof and put together a chimney brush. It should come with multiple flexible rods that extend its length.
  4. Slowly push the brush down the chimney, letting the brush pop up after every foot you've swept.
  5. Continue until you've reached the bottom of the chimney.
  6. Repeat if necessary.

Other chimney sweeping methods, such as sweeping from the bottom, using pull rings and weights, and a two-line system are also acceptable, but the "top down" method is usually the easiest to perform. It also creates lower amounts of spillage into your room.

If you're concerned about creosote buildup in your chimney and aren't ready to clean your chimney yourself, call a professional chimney sweep like Early Times Home Solutions. They can help you avoid the dangers of chimney fires and keep you out of situations where you need to deal with one by yourself.


25 August 2015

Keeping Cool All Summer Long

Moving to a hot climate freed me from dealing with snow and ice in the winter. However, it also brought a lot more heat during the summer. I had resigned myself to paying big bills for cooling nine months out of the year when I found out from a friend that my air conditioner was struggling and need in of repair. Once a technician stopped by and gave my equipment a tune up, my cooling costs were nearly cut in half! This surprising discovery prompted me to head online and blog about my experiences. Even if you and your family only use the air conditioner a few times a month during the summer, you can benefit from my tips on keeping the equipment running smoothly and efficiently. You'll appreciate the combination of cooler indoor temperatures and lower monthly bills.