How To Prevent a Chimney Fire

It has been a very cold year so far, especially for us in Southern California. Plus, we’ve had more storms recently than over the last few years combined! All of that together may make you think about putting a few logs in the fireplace and lighting it up. Nothing is as cheerful and cozy as a fire on a chilly day.

But before you put a match to those logs, please review these tips on how to prevent a chimney fire. A chimney fire can burn a home to the ground, cause people to lose their lives, and are mostly due to lack of chimney care and maintenance.

  1. Even if you don’t use it that much, have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected annually. By a professional! A dirty chimney has large amounts of creosote and soot buildup, and these elements burn at very high temperatures and will help spread a chimney fire throughout your home. A certified chimney sweep will get your fireplace in top shape, preventing smoke and exhaust gases from coming into your home.
  2. Build small fires, as they burn better and don’t produce as much creosote in your chimney as a larger fire that burns slowly. A fire that burns brightly produces less smoke and soot, and therefore leaves less buildup on the inside of the chimney. Small fires are also best as they are safer and easier to control.
  3. Seasoned and dry wood is the best type for a good fire. Wet wood burns slowly, adding to that dangerous buildup in the chimney. Make sure the wood has been seasoned for six months or longer.
  4. Your fireplace is not a barbecue or a trash can, and don’t use it as such. Don’t use combustible liquids in your fire (i.e. barbecue lighter fluid) or throw in paper, like garbage, wrapping paper, plants, or paper. These can float up a chimney and set alight creosote deposits.
  5. Do you know what a chimney liner is? No, we didn’t either. They help provide better air flow, exhaust passage for gasses, and protects the chimney structure from excessive heat and fumes. This is a good product for reducing the chance of a chimney fire.
  6. Another good chimney-fire prevention device is a chimney cap, especially when you don’t use your fireplace often. They prevent leaves and twigs from falling inside, which can easily ignite during a fire, and also prevent birds or animals from making a home in your chimney. These caps can also help stop embers from escaping through your chimney and lighting neighboring landscapes or houses on fire.
  7. Don’t forget to crack a window! A fire needs good air flow, so ensure the fireplace damper is fully open.

For more information on good chimney health, click here.

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