How to Recognize a Chimney Fire

July 17, 2020

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A chimney fire can be devastating because it can not only seriously damage the chimney flue, but it can easily spread to the house as well if it goes unnoticed. Chimney fires are common when regular chimney cleaning is overlooked, so it’s important to recognize signs that you need to have your chimney cleaned, and it’s important to know when you’re having a chimney fire. Here’s what you need to know about why chimney fires start, how to recognize one, and how a chimney sweep in Acworth can help prevent them.

Why Chimney Fires Start

The overall cause of chimney fires is creosote. Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of the combustion process when burning wood. Any woodburning fireplace or stove will create creosote, which can eventually coat the inside of your chimney. Creosote may take on a few different appearances, depending on the stage. It may look flaky and dusty, crunchy or tarlike, or gummy and glazed. While the creation of creosote is impossible to avoid, there are some factors that contribute to excess creosote. These include burning unseasoned wood, having restricted airflow in your chimney, poor ventilation, or having a cooler than normal chimney temperature. Creosote is extremely flammable, which means that if it’s allowed to build up for long and your chimney gets hot enough, it can catch fire and cause a chimney fire. In addition, embers or sparks that exit your chimney can light the creosote. Chimney fires aren’t always obvious, especially if you have a slow-burning chimney fire. 

Slow-Burning Fire Signs

A slow-burning chimney fire may occur when the creosote inside the chimney flue gets hot enough to catch fire, but the flames aren’t large enough to be visible. However, slow-burning fires are still dangerous and can cause significant damage to your chimney. Signs of a slow-burning chimney fire include honeycombed creosote inside your chimney or warped metal components from the intense heat. Many of the signs of a slow-burning fire are visible during an inspection by a chimney sweep after the fire has stopped burning. These signs include damaged flue tiles, damage to shingles near the chimney, or cracks to the exterior masonry. You may notice chunks of creosote in the fireplace or on the roof near the chimney following a slow-burning fire.

Slow-burning Chimney Fire

Fast-Burning Fire Signs

Fast-burning chimney fires are far more obvious to see and hear. You’ll hear crackling and popping noises from inside the chimney and see thick smoke coming from the top of the chimney and perhaps from the fireplace as well. This type of fire is clearly visible from the outside, and you’ll notice flames and pieces of flaming creosote coming from the top of the chimney. The sound can be very loud and can be compared to an airplane or freight train. Anytime you suspect a chimney fire, you should call the fire department to ensure the fire is properly put out and that your home is protected.

Avoiding Chimney Fires

The best way to avoid chimney fires is to get regular chimney cleanings and inspections. The chimney sweep will determine how thick the buildup of creosote is to make sure it’s cleaned as needed. The inspection will also help determine if a fire has already occurred, in which case you may need Acworth, GA, chimney repair. It’s important to get cleaning and repairs as needed to avoid danger from gas exposure and fire risk. To get your cleaning and inspection scheduled, call Atlanta Chimney Doctor today.

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