Each year, there are over 25,000 chimney fires in the United States. They usually start due to a build-up of creosote, a sticky, dark substance that is produced as a by-product of burning wood. A chimney fire might be loud with noticeable flames or the fire could burn slowly and undetected. Take steps to prevent chimney fires to help protect your property and keep your family safe.
Have the Chimney Cleaned and Inspected
Schedule a chimney cleaning by a professional at least once each year. The sweep will remove soot, animal nests, debris, and creosote. A professional will locate cracks and damage that may not be obvious to a homeowner. He or she will also examine the structure of your chimney and make any needed repairs.
Burn Hardwoods to Help Prevent Chimney Fires
Reduce creosote and the risk of flare-ups inside the chimney by burning hardwoods that have been seasoned for at least 6 months. Store wood in a dry location. Do not burn damp wood or softwoods like pine indoors because they produce more creosote and smoke.
Never use your fireplace to burn trash like newspapers, junk mail, or cardboard. As they burn, the burning pieces can float upwards and ignite creosote higher up in the chimney.
Install a Chimney Cap
Chimney caps are metal coverings installed over the opening to keep out rain and animals. A chimney cap prevents backdrafts (wind blowing down the chimney) and reduces the risk of fire by blocking embers that float up from the fire.
Open the Damper to Prevent Chimney Fires
The purpose of the damper is to seal the opening of the chimney. When enjoying a fire, the damper should be open to allow soot, carbon monoxide, and smoke to flow out of your home. Good airflow helps prevent creosote build-up because the fire burns faster and hotter and produces less smoke.
Clean and maintain your chimney and fireplace to help prevent chimney fires. Call a professional to inspect and clean the chimney before building using your fireplace this season.