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Avoid Late-Season Chimney Fires

The fire-burning season is largely over, but check your chimney before you light one last fire for the season. While you might worry about chimney fires when your fireplace is in full force for the season, you actually run the biggest risk for chimney fires late in the season. Here’s why late-season chimney fires are fairly common.

Why Chimney Fires are More Common in the Late Season

The saying goes that clean chimneys don’t catch fire. After a season’s worth of house-warming fires, your chimney isn’t clean anymore. Every time you burn a fire, the smoke from the fire cools as it travels up the chimney. This forms condensation on the walls of the chimney. That condensation hardens into creosote. Creosote is a highly flammable substance. If creosote has built up on your chimney thicker than 1/8 of an inch, it can ignite due to extreme heat from your fireplace or from a stray ember that makes its way up your chimney. You can check the level of creosote in your chimney by reaching inside and scraping off a small piece of creosote. If the depth of your scratch or the thickness of the piece of creosote is greater than 1/8 of an inch, call your chimney sweep.

How to Prevent Late-Season Chimney Fires

The key to preventing late-season chimney fires, or any chimney fire, is to keep your chimney clean. Most homeowners clean their chimney once per year in the fall. If you use your chimney heavily throughout the winter months, you might consider having a mid- or late-season chimney sweeping. This ensures that the creosote within your chimney hasn’t built up to potentially dangerous levels. A late-season chimney sweeping is especially wise if you tend to burn fires into the spring if temperatures warrant the additional heat.

You also can work throughout the winter to minimize the amount of creosote that builds up within your chimney. The hotter your fire burns, the less creosote will build up in your chimney with each fire. A hot fire needs dry wood and plenty of oxygen. Only burn hardwoods that have been allowed to dry for at least six months. In addition, always operate your fireplace with the fireplace doors and damper completely open, unless you have heavy-duty fireplace doors that are designed to be closed when the fireplace is in use.

Call Total Chimney Care to Help You Prevent a Late-Season Chimney Fire!

If you’ve been burning fires in your fireplace all season long, call Total Chimney Care to clean your chimney before you light another fire! A late-season chimney sweeping will help you to prevent a late-season chimney fire, and it will help prepare your chimney for the start of the next fire-burning season.

By Steve Sobczak on May 14th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

All About Liners

Your chimney’s liner serves a critical purpose: it protects the exterior masonry from the direct impact of heat. Over time, your liner may develop cracks and need to be replaced or repaired.


Identifying the Dangers of Creosote

After wood or coal has burned in a fireplace over a period of time, the family is likely to be exposed to the dangers of creosote. Creosote is a chemical that is left behind on the fireplace and in the chimney after these materials have been burned. It is important for homeowners to be aware of this potential problem and to maintain their fireplaces accordingly.

Creosote Buildup - New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care

Image courtesy of Dennis Lamb of The Mad Hatter Chimney Service in Indianapolis IN

If there is a possibility that the dangers of creosote are present, the first step is to look inside the chimney. It is easy to see an accumulation of this dangerous chemical inside of the chimney and the fireplace. If it appears to have built up to an amount of more than one eighth of an inch, it may be time for a good cleaning.

Of course, getting a good look inside of the chimney requires the inspector to climb up into the roof. The majority of creosote accumulation is going to be found near the top of the chimney, not at the base near the fireplace. For safety and convenience reasons, it is a good idea for homeowners to hire professional chimney and fireplace inspectors to handle this for them.

If the inspection shows that there is, in fact, a dangerous amount of creosote  in the fireplace, this is not a cleaning job that homeowners should take on themselves. Cleaning a chimney is a complicated task and should be left to someone who is specifically trained for the job. An inexperienced person may not only put themselves and the chimney at risk, but they will most likely end up having to call a professional anyway.

The presence of creosote in a chimney or fireplace can pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of the family. A homeowner who is unsure as to whether or not they are at risk should call a professional to inspect their chimney. When taking care of a creosote problem, it is best to hire a certified chimney sweep.

By Steve Sobczak on May 28th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment