Reducing the Chance of Chimney Fires

 

If you own a fireplace you should be keenly aware of the risk of having a chimney fire. Chimney fires can be extremely dangerous and very frightening. The chimney creates an atmosphere for the flames of a fire to become explosive and unpredictable, these two elements create danger for the safety of your family and your home.

As wood burns in your stove or fireplace, the byproducts (smoke, carbon monoxide, etc.) stick to the inside of the chimney and create a film referred to as creosote. This film is very flammable, hence the danger of chimney fires. This article discusses how to reduce your risk of experiencing a chimney fire and how to put it out if one happens to occur.

Here are five things you can easily do to reduce your risk of a chimney fire:

  • Use extremely dry wood, sometimes referred to as "seasoned wood." The more moisture that is in your wood, the thicker and heaver the smoke becomes and the greater the chance of creosote buildup.
  • Rather than building large, very dense fires, build small fires with less wood. Working with less wood can help reduce the amount of smoke emitted by the fire, ultimately lessening the amount of creosote formed on the inside of the chimney.
  • Try to avoid burning trash, paper towels, wrapping paper, cardboard, paper bags, etc. Burning materials other than wood can increase the chance of sparks that can cause chimney fires.
  • Monitor fire temperatures with a thermometer to make sure the fire does not burn too quickly and at too high of a temperature.
  • Search your yellow pages for a professional chimney inspector and cleaner. Have your chimney cleaned an inspected at least two times a year.

If, by chance, a chimney fire does start follow the basics of putting out a fire. First, evaluate the danger of the fire. Call 911 for backup from the fire department and then evacuate your family. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand to use just in case. Use buckets or hoses to try and limit the flames from spreading.

Remember that it is a lot more cost effective and simple to practice preventative methods than it is to fix fire damage and finance repairs.

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