A chimney fire often leads to injury and may lead to the death of anyone exposed to it. There are over 20 thousand of these fires in the U.S. each year. In many of those cases, a thorough chimney cleaning and structural check could have saved thousands or millions of dollars in damages.
Damage found inside the chimney, such as a cracked liner, can allow sparks and embers to find their way to a flammable part of your home- your attic, inside your walls, or your roof.
The most common cause of chimney fire is, however, simply the build up of creosote (a residue left behind after you burn a fire.) This substance is highly flammable and, if not removed, will eventually catch fire.
Though you do want a nice, small, controlled fire in your fireplace- you don’t want a chimney fire.
Rather than those nice, soft crackling sounds- you’ll hear a freight train in your chimney. The sound is powerful enough to awake a soundly sleeping person several rooms away. The sight is unmistakable.
Or you could have a less powerful fire on your hands- one that you won’t notice until it’s already over. This latter type of chimney fire could only be a prelude for the raging blaze described above.
Signs of this second type of fire can include fly ash, charred caps, and chimney liner damage. A good inspection can catch this right away and prevent a progressively worse fire. Call to find a time that works for you, or if you suspect you may have had this letter type of chimney fire- (678) 909-4366.
Know Your Chimney Fire
It’s easy to determine which type of chimney fire you’re dealing with- the differences are unmistakable. In any case, if you have either type of fire, call the fire department. We can help prevent fires, or clean up after them- but the fire department’s job is to protect you and your family if your chimney is already on fire.
The first type of fire you may encounter is “Slow Burning”. This type of fire may go unnoticed at first, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. The high temperatures these fires reach can cause structural damage to your chimney. The damage may be so severe and the structure weakened such that the fire may spread to any nearby flammable objects or parts of your home including the wooden frame of your fireplace.
The other type of chimney fire you should be aware of is a “Free Burning” fire. This is the kind of chimney fire that you will notice if you are in the house when it happens. A free burning chimney fire is accompanied by a loud, forceful sound and thick smoke. The temperatures given off by the flames can reach 2000 degrees, hot enough to melt metal.
What to Do If There Is a Chimney Fire
Get everyone away from the fire and out of the house. Call the fire department.
Once a fire has happened, we can help clean up your chimney and decide what repairs it needs, etc.
Do remember that the best thing you can do to prevent a chimney fire is to keep your chimney clean and schedule an annual inspection. Call us today to make sure you are in good shape for another year: (678) 909-4366.
Other ways to prevent a chimney fire:
- Burn only dry wood that is 12 months of age or older, retaining no more than about 15 to 25 percent moisture.
- Only start a fire with clean, dry kindling or newspaper.
- Don’t burn trash (including cardboard) or Christmas trees.
- Burn larger pieces of wood when available.
- Get an annual chimney and fireplace inspection.
Different Chimneys, Different Damage
How much damage is done during an unwanted chimney fire can be different depending on what kind of chimney you have.
A “Masonry Chimney” will accrue the heaviest structural damage. If a clay type liner is in place, the high heat and pressure of a chimney fire may cause it to completely collapse. This type of chimney may also harbor smaller, damaging fires before you get a fire that is truly out of control. The smaller chimney fires will damage the interior of the chimney, allowing a stronger fire to gain a foothold, letting it spread to other parts of your home.
“Prefabricated Chimney” is a metal chimney meant to hold up to high temperatures, but still cannot stand up to the incredibly hot temperatures of a severe chimney fire. Remember, chimney fires can burn as hot as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to warp these metal chimneys. They may even collapse of seem to melt or distort due to a disturbance in their chemical makeup. It is very important that, if any of these things occur, the liner is replaced.
It can be traumatic to experience a chimney fire, but if you know what signs to look for and can schedule a professional inspection the danger and damage can be completely avoided.
The best course of action is to have an annual cleaning and inspection. In doing so, you will effectively prevent any chance there is that you will experience a chimney fire in your own home.
Please schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals today. Call us at (678) 909-4366.