Thursday, October 15, 2015 - As temperatures drop, many people start using their fireplaces and stoves to stay warm. Chimney fires occur when built-up creosote within the chimney catches fire. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood and other combustibles and is very flammable.
Brick and mortar and metal pipe chimneys designed to convey heat and smoke out of the fireplace are not designed to contain a creosote fire. Creosote fires inside a chimney can burn through the mortar between the bricks and enter the structure, or it can overheat a stove pipe to the extent that it "cooks" the wood around it, making it even more flammable. Sparks and embers from the creosote fire within the chimney can also float down to the roof shingles and gutters, where there may be flammable leaves or pine needles.
Chimney fires can be prevented with regular inspection and cleaning. Property owners are encouraged to have their chimneys inspected once a year and cleaned as needed, based on the results of your inspection. Chimney inspection and cleaning services can be found by searching on-line or using the yellow pages.
Also, the wood you burn should be well seasoned and dry. The moisture and sap in green wood causes more smoke, robs your stove of efficiency and encourages more creosote deposits in your chimney. A smokey chimney is more prone to creosote deposits than a smoke free chimney.
Keep your home and family safe this winter!