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Safety - Chimney Fires Preventable - Regular Maintenace Can Prevent Many Chimney Fires


Chimney fires can result in minor damage or major house fires that cause loss of life. Whenever dealing with fire, it's essential to know safety protocol.


Most chimney fires result from carelessness on the part of homeowners and lack of chimney care. Simple maintenance and other tips can help keep residents safe. Chimney fires are easy to prevent if homeowners follow these recommendations:


Annual cleaning of the chimney will remove build-up of soot and creosote from inside the chimney. Leave this job to a certified chimney sweep. Failing to clean the chimney can result in these highly flammable materials igniting and potentially spreading fire to the rest of the house.


Have the chimney inspected once a year for wear and tear and anything that needs to be replaced or mended.


Build fires with dry, seasoned wood. Dry wood produces less smoke and smoldering than wet wood. Less smoke means less build-up on chimney walls. Look for wood that has been seasoning for at least 6 months to a year.


•Build small fires that are easier to control and manage. A fire that burns compactly and well will also produce less smoke and build-up.


•While most people tend to prefer hardwoods to build their fires because they burn longer, it really doesn't matter which wood is used so long as it is seasoned wood. Seasoned wood burns hot and clean.


•A chimney liner can protect the chimney structure from excessive heating and exhaust fumes. It also enables the chimney to be cleaned more easily.

Install a chimney cap that will prevent debris, including twigs and leaves that are highly flammable, from entering the structure. It can also prevent small animals from entering the chimney and causing a fire.


•Never use combustible materials, such as paper or liquid accelerants to start a fire. These materials can cause embers to float up the chimney and ignite creosote. Or, they may cause the fire to burn out of control.


Leave the damper open so that there is adequate air flow, which will limit the amount of creosote that forms.


Creosote is the condensation of unburned, flammable particulates present in the exhausting flue gas (smoke). The cause of creosote is the temperature of the flue in the chimney. If the surface temperature of the flue is cool, the carbon particles in the smoke will condense and solidify, collecting on the flue. Because wet or "green" wood burns at a lower temperature or smolders, it can cause the flue to have a cooler surface temperature, thus leading to more creosote.


Seasoned woods, or those that have been left to dry for several months or a year, will burn hotter and thus increase the temperature of the flue. A hotter flue means less creosote buildup.

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