Each year, chimneys that have not been properly cared for lead to numerous house fires. Blockages in the chimney due to animal nests, leaves and debris, or fallen masonry can cause the smoke and flames to travel into the home rather than up and out of the chimney. Creosote, which is a black or dark brown tar and soot caused by burning wood and other items, can also build up over time and cause a blockage. This is particularly dangerous as not only does it block the smoke and fumes from the fire from leaving the house properly, but is also a very flammable substance that can catch fire itself.
Another potential cause of house fires from chimneys is a damaged chimney liner. The liner is there to protect other more flammable areas of the home from exposure to sparks and smoke. If the liner is damaged, these other areas of the home are more susceptible to fire.
Blockages and damaged liners can also allow smoke to travel about the house, which can cause soot stains and make the house smell. But besides being annoying, this can also allow dangerous fumes to enter the home, such as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas that can cause illness and can potentially lead to death.
One of the biggest causes of chimney damage, whether it is to the brickwork, liner, or other components, is water. A faulty chimney cap, crown, or flashing should be repaired as soon as possible to help prevent water damage from occurring in the chimney. Chimney leak repair can also help prevent water damage from occurring in other areas, such as the ceiling, walls, or attic space near the chimney.