Myth #1: Chimney fires don't hurt my chimney, it just saves me having to sweep it this year!
Chimney fires burn up to 2000 degrees, which is much hotter than chimneys are built to handle. The rapid rise in temperature can crack clay tile liners and damage the outer masonry. Your first chimney fire might not do any noticeable damage, but may cause structural problems within the system and weaken mortar joints. Your second incident might burn your house to the ground.
Myth #2: If it's clean, it's safe, right?
Simply looking up the chimney and seeing light isn’t enough. There may be built up glazed – shiny creosote along the insides or damage to your chimney that you don’t know about because it is out of sight. A cracked liner inside your chimney will contract and expand with heating [usage] and can allow heat to penetrate thru the flue liner cracks and into the chimney channel itself and migrate into your home. If there are combustible materials (wood framing, etc) too close to the chimney, they can spontaneously combust and set fire to the home.
What causes a chimney fire?
When wood is burned, by-products of combustion condense inside the flue, leaving a flammable deposit – this is creosote. When creosote ignites, that is a chimney fire. Creosote is highly combustible, so it doesn’t have to be a large build-up to cause a fire. An 1/8 inch is enough!
What to do in case of a chimney fire:
- Shut the damper or close off the air supply for the unit
- Get everyone out of the house
- Call your local emergency dispatch center at 911
- After it’s over, call a professional chimney sweep to thoroughly inspect and clean the system
Preventing a chimney fire:
- Burn dry, seasoned wood
- Operate your stove or furnace in the correct temperature range
- Never burn trash or cardboard boxes
- Consider upgrading to a high-efficiency wood stove or fireplace
- Have it swept and inspected yearly by a Trained and Certified Chimney Professional