A house fire is a scary prospect for any homeowner. Fire can spread quickly throughout your home, causing extensive property damage, injury, or even death. Luckily, with proper chimney maintenance, you can reduce the risk of fire in your home. Below are four strategies you can implement to prevent chimney fires.
Minimize the Build-up of Creosote to Prevent Chimney Fires
Creosote is undoubtedly one of the leading causes of chimney fires. This highly flammable substance is a by-product of burning in the fireplace. Smoke condenses as it travels up the chimney. If the temperature within the flue is high and the creosote build-up is thick enough, creosote could ignite.
To prevent chimney fires caused by creosote build-up, use only seasoned wood stored in a dry place for at least six months. Before burning the firewood, test the moisture content using a moisture meter which you can purchase online or at hardware stores. Don’t burn freshly cut wood because it produces more smoke and creosote. Keep the damper open when using the fireplace to allow adequate airflow.
If your chimney is not insulated, hire a professional to insulate it. A well-insulated liner prevents the temperatures in the flue from getting too cold – an environment that leads to creosote formation when the smoke condenses quickly.
Schedule a Professional Chimney Inspection
Many defects that lead to chimney fires, like a damaged flue liner, aren’t usually visible to the naked eye. To promote safety, have a professional inspect and clean the chimney at least once per year.
An expert will check the chimney and notify you of any signs of damage. You’ll be able to schedule necessary repairs before the issue becomes more severe.
Clean Your Chimney
Before building the first fire of the season, ensure the chimney is clean. You’ll reduce the risk of fire by removing flammable materials like leaves, pine needles, animal nests, and creosote from the flue. You can clean your chimney yourself using a chimney brush and a ladder. However, it’s always preferable to let a professional handle this task. They have the tools necessary to eliminate soot, creosote, and other debris that has accumulated in your chimney.
Check the Cap to Prevent Chimney Fires
Another great way to prevent chimney fires is by making sure that you have a functioning cap. A chimney cap helps to keep debris, pests, and rainwater out of your chimney. It also helps to prevent backdrafts, where smoke from a fire re-enters the home as the wind blows down the chimney. If your chimney cap is loose, missing, or damaged, replace it before using the fireplace.
Fireplaces are a convenient source of heat during the cold months and can help you save on energy bills, but they can be dangerous if you don’t take proper precautions. Use these prevention tips to protect your loved ones from chimney fires.
American Home Inspection Services offers inspections to homebuyers and sellers in Southeast Michigan. Contact us to request our services.