How a Chimney Fire can Damage Your Chimney
Chimney fires come in all sizes. It’s pretty clear the type of damage that can be done by a full-on fire in your chimney. But chimney fires often are relatively small and start and go out on their own. Still, damage can be done by these fires, and if you don’t know about it, that damage can turn into dangerous issues down the line.
What causes a chimney fire?
The most common cause of chimney fires is ignited creosote inside your chimney flue or smoke chamber. Flammable creosote is produced by smoke during wood combustion, so it’s impossible to completely prevent it from getting into your chimney system.
You can, however, deal effectively with it. One way is by having a licensed chimney sweep clean your chimney once a year. Another is to burn only dry (seasoned) wood, which emits much less smoke than damp (unseasoned) wood.
Damage from a chimney fire
Smaller chimney fires, over time, can cause serious damage inside your flue and to the smoke chamber, which is the drafting portal that sits just above your fireplace. The most common types of damage include:
- Cracked or broken chimney liner that puts the bricks and mortar of your chimney’s masonry at risk
- Cracked smoke chamber bricks that allow intense heat to spread to vulnerable building materials of your home
- The escape of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, which is known to be potentially fatal to people and pets
- Water damage that results from compromises in the masonry
As you can see, even relatively small chimney fires can be highly destructive – and the worst part is, most homeowners never even know they happened. For this reason, the best way to address the problem of chimney fires is to reduce the likelihood of them happening by having your chimney cleaned and inspected on a regular basis.
How to know if you’re having a chimney fire
You’ll know immediately if your chimney has a major fire. Less-dramatic fires also leave clues such as:
- A rumbling sound like from a distant train
- A peculiar tapping or clicking sound coming from the fireplace
- More-than-usual dense smoke coming from the top of the chimney or the fireplace
These signs should be taken seriously. If you notice them, call 911 and put out the fire in the fireplace if you can do so safely.
The value of a professional chimney inspection
Trained chimney inspectors have the tools and experience to evaluate your chimney and adjacent parts of your home following a known or suspected chimney fire. They may use video imaging technology to inspect your chimney liner and interior masonry. After an inspection, you’ll know exactly what state your chimney is in and what types of repairs are needed to restore safety and efficiency.
Chimney inspections should be performed annually, whether or not you’ve had a chimney fire. Basic inspections cover all visible areas of your chimney system including masonry, chimney cap, chimney crown, roof flashing, fireplace damper & more.
Chimney Specialists of Highland, WI, serves all of the Highland region as well as Dubuque, Iowa, and neighboring communities. We provide expert chimney cleaning, chimney inspection and all manner of chimney repair and rebuilding work. In and around Highland, call (608) 929-4887. In the Dubuque area, reach us at (563) 582-5156.