Avoiding Chimney Fires: Vital Information For Homeowners
A fire burning in your fireplace is a great way to stay warm and cozy on a cold winter night, but one thing you don't want in your home is a fire in your chimney. If the chimney catches fire, you could be looking at structural damage to your house and a costly restoration process. The following article takes a look at some information every homeowner should know about chimney fires and how to avoid them.
One of the main cause of chimney fires is called creosote. This flammable substance sticks to the sides of your chimney and can cause fires to ignite if it's not removed in a timely manner. Creosote progresses through three stages over time; each one more of a fire hazard than the last.
The stage is a soot that is relatively easy to remove. The second stage is hardened flakes that are more difficult to remove. When it enters the third stage, creosote becomes a very hard substance that looks like tar. It's quite difficult to remove, unless the job is done by a professional, and you should avoid letting this substance develop in your chimney.
Homeowners can take several steps to avoid creosote buildup. Always make certain that you have good airflow in your chimney. Creosote develops more easily when a fireplace fire is not hot enough, so keep the fire hot by adding a few lumps of coal to the wood fire. Ensure that the wood in your fireplace is well-seasoned, as burning unseasoned wood leads to an excess of creosote.
The best way to make sure that your chimney is safe for use is to have it inspected by a professional and to have it cleaned when the inspector recommends it. Have an inspection done at least once a year.
Chimney inspectors offer three levels of inspections, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. If no changes have been made to the chimney, then a level 1 inspection, where the technician checks the soundness of the chimney and looks for excessive creosote, is fine. If changes to the chimney, such as a new flue, have been made, a more extensive level 2 inspection is needed. If either of these inspections indicate some sort of unseen hazard, then a level 3 inspection, where certain components of the chimney are removed and checked, is in order.
When an inspection detects excessive creosote buildup, you need to have to removed by a chimney cleaning service immediately. Contact a qualified chimney service, like Chimneys Unlimited, for more information about this subject.