How to Avoid Chimney Fires this Winter

How to Avoid Chimney Fires this Winter

Chimney fires happen more often than you might expect, causing property damage to homes. Fire damage from chimney fires often results from fire in the chimney causing cracking, melting, or warping affecting metal chimney walls or masonry. In the event of a severe chimney fire, houses can be fully destroyed and lives endangered. Since chimney fires are preventable, you can keep your family and your home safe. By having your chimney periodically inspected, cleaned, and in good repair, chimney fires can be avoided. Here’s how.

  • Decrease the Build-Up of Creosote – First, let’s define creosote. It is the dark brown substance, a result of smoke, vapors, and wood moving up the chimney, that builds up on the walls of your chimney. Creosote is very flammable, which means if the build up is extensive and the heat rises, it can catch fire. Creosote build-up can be reduced by only burning dried hardwood in your fireplace and keeping the damper opened. Insulating your flue liner with an insulation blanket or an insulation mix (Vermiculite for example) can help prevent the build up of creosote as well.
  • Have Your Chimney Inspected Annually – Annual chimney inspection can prevent chimney fires. How? Chimney fires are often the result of defects and damage to your chimney and a chimney inspection can detect areas which need attention, though they may not be readily visible to you as the homeowner. If damages, defects, obstructions, creosote, or soot are present, they can be repaired or removed. Chimney inspections are available in varying levels, dependent on your needs and your budget.
  • Clean Your Chimney – When the build-up on your chimney walls reaches an eighth of an inch or more, it is time to have your chimney cleaned. Chimney cleaning includes sweeping the exterior as well as the firebox, smoke shelf, smoke chamber, flue, and flue liner, and is well worth the comparably minimal cost involved.
  • Add a Chimney Cap – Obstructions in your flue from leaves, debris, or nesting animals can fuel a chimney fire. Adding a chimney cap will keep animals, along with leaves and other debris out of the chimney. Plus, a chimney cap will keep water, which can corrode the chimney, out, as well as prevent smoke from re-entering the chimney.
  • Choose Safe Fire Starters – When choosing your fuel, tinder, kindling, or other fire starters, safety should be priority one. Never use kerosene or gasoline which are both highly flammable and combustible. Always select a well-seasoned or fire safety approved logs for your fire. Choose dried twigs or branches for kindling along with pinecones or newspaper for tinder. Do not use cardboard or magazine pages which, when burned, emit chemical toxins into your home.
  • Practice Clean Burning – What is clean burning? Hot, fast-burning fires are clean burning. They leave less smoke, vapor, and wood behind, which means less opportunity of creosote build-up. In addition, always be sure you extinguish your fire before heading to bed by spreading the wood/embers, covering them with ash, and dousing the cooled wood/embers with baking soda. In the morning, when the firebox is cool, you can collect the ashes in a metal container, fill it with water, and store it outside to be discarded.

Turnbull Masonry Knows Chimneys

Winter will soon be here and you want your fireplace to keep you cozy and warm. If your chimney needs repair or replacement, the experienced team at Turnbull Masonry can help make the needed repairs to keep your Toronto home’s chimney operating safely. Call on the team at Turnbull Masonry to secure your family’s comfort and safety with chimney repair or chimney rebuild before winter arrives.

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