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Chimney Safety 101

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in front of a roaring fireplace on a cold winter eve, taking in the beautiful aromatic aromas of aged oak or maple. That soothing crackle and occasional pop can deliver in the most satisfying ways. You can just picture the sitting, but not imagine a hot intense flame emitting dangerous dark smokes cloud throughout the room. The intense smell of the fire as it catches on the nearby flammable items. As unlikely and terrifying as the situation just turned, you’d be surprised at just how real this potential is for homeowners with a fireplace. In just a matter of minutes, your most adored, prized possession could go up in flames. Do you even have insurance to cover the damage? Would the insurance company cover this damage if the reason for the fire was neglected chimney maintenance? Likely not! And just to think, this entire situation could have been avoided with proper maintenance. There are nearly 23,000 reported chimney fires a year. Without proper preparedness and awareness, a chimney fire has the real potential to destroy all your hopes and dreams of homeownership. It could even cost you the lives of some of your deepest loved ones. All of this could have possibly been avoided with simple routine chimney maintenance.

Do Chimney Fires Offer A Distinct Sound?

Although a roaring fire produces sounds of popping and cracking, it might be possible to hear a chimney fire roaring out of control before the damage is unstoppable. While these fires commonly burn explosively, they do spread slowly. More telling than the sounds of popping and cracking is the dark smoke that follows. Always be aware of these potentials and be on the lookout for them.

What Is Creosote?

The byproduct of fire is meant to exit through the top of your chimney and out into the atmosphere. This is the entire purpose of the chimney and why you see so many smoking in the dead of winter. It isn’t just smoke that’s being emitted from these devices. It is a mixture of smoke, water vapor, burned wood products, hydrocarbon, tar fog, and minerals. As this mixture flows upwards and out your chimney, it leaves behind a sticky, thick residue known as creosote or commonly referred to as soot. This soot will stick to the inner walls of your chimney, build up, and create future potential problems.

Preventing Future Chimney Fires

Fire is without a doubt best prevented and can be with proper chimney maintenance. Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind:
  • Regular Chimney Cleaning – Removing the buildup and accumulation of creosote is the best way to ensure that your chimney does cause a house fire. This is a process that can be easily accomplished with the proper brush, extension pipe, and creosote removers. There are also professionals available for the task.
  • Avoid Burning Trash – It can be extremely tempting to small waste paper or garbage in your roaring fire. It just burns it up and turns it to ashes, right? What’s the harm with that? These items create increased smoke and even more creosote buildup than wood. They can even spark and send embers outside the chimney.
  • Only Seasoned Wood – Speaking of the proper burning materials, burning the wrong wood can also create potential problems. Unseasoned wood requires more effort and energy, which creates cooler smoke. As that cooler smoke flows up through your chimney it will only create more creosote. Moist wood presents even more of a problem. All wood should be properly dried for 6 months to a year before it is considered burnable in a chimney.


Chimneys, as relaxing and beautiful as they are, can be one of the home’s most potentially dangerous appliances. Safety and proper operation should be practiced at all times. Children should be taught to respect these appliances as well as how to properly utilize them. Along with proper maintenance, these techniques will help prevent future fires

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