How to Prevent Chimney Fires with Nexus Chimney Services

April 16, 2019

Every year, there are more than 25,000 chimney fires in the U.S., incurring more than $125 million in property damage. In the most severe cases, chimney fires can destroy entire homes and put lives at risk. Sadly, most of these tragedies are preventable, often resulting from a failure to regularly inspect, repair, and clean the chimney. Here is how to prevent a chimney fire from harming you, your family, and your property.

What is Creosote?

Most chimney fires are caused by creosote, a dark brown substance that coats chimney walls. Over time, the creosote builds up into a thick, highly flammable layer. If the temperature is high enough, and the build-up is thick enough, it can catch fire and move up the flue.

How to Minimize Creosote Build-Up

To minimize creosote build-up, only burn seasoned hardwood that has dried for at least six months and contains a moisture content of no more than 20%. You can easily test this with a wood moisture meter, available at most hardware stores for around $40. And, it almost goes without saying, make sure to schedule an annual chimney cleaning to remove the build-up. If you aren’t sure how long it’s been since your chimney has been cleaned, scratch a finger against the chimney wall. If you uncover at least 1/8th of an inch of build-up, it’s time for a cleaning.

Schedule an Annual Chimney Inspection

If a chimney fire isn’t caused by creosote build-up, it’s almost always due to a flaw that isn’t visible to the naked eye, like a cracked flue liner. Therefore, even if you’re not worried about the creosote, it’s important to have a professional chimney inspection at least once a year to ensure your fireplace, chimney, and venting system are undamaged and safe.

Install a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap on the crown around the outside opening of the flue is crucial to keeping debris and critters out. Flammable debris like bird nest and leaves can quickly fuel a chimney fire, and a dead bird or squirrel in your chimney will smell pretty awful! A chimney cap will also prevent “back puffing,” wherein escaped smoke from a fire re-enters the chimney and then the home. Finally, chimney caps also prevent acidic rainwater from entering and corroding the chimney.

Does Your Chimney Need Cleaning? Call Nexus Chimney Services

Nexus Chimney Services is a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney company, providing quality inspections, cleanings, repairs and installations in the Raleigh-Triangle region. If you are in need of a Raleigh chimney repair or similar service, schedule an appointment with us today.