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  • Writer's pictureJustin McDaid

Is My Chimney Safe?

As cooler months approach, along with them comes the desire for a crackling fire and an extra dose of warmth. Just thinking of the cozy ambiance may lead you to ignite your fireplace. Before you do so, are you confident your chimney is up to par?

There is more to a fireplace than simply flipping a switch or lighting planks of wood. The inside of a chimney can become over 2000° which is a significant amount of heat.

If there is a buildup of creosote or other flammable debris, a chimney fire is bound to happen. In most chimney fires, the flame does not directly contact the structure of your home. The fire is started from excess heat transferring through the chimney into the framing members of the home causing the structure to catch fire.

This may make you wonder, “Is My Chimney Safe?” Here are a few indicators that your chimney needs attention:

· Smoke enters the room when the fireplace door is opened

· Feathers or possible nest materials show up in the firebox

· Your fireplace smells like smoke even when it isn’t lit

· Unusual sounds are made when burning a fire

· Black flakes of soot or creosote fall into the firebox

· There are cracks in the firebox

· Its been more than a year since you last had the chimney swept or inspected

What is Creosote?

As one of the main causes of chimney fires, creosote is incredibly dangerous.

Creosote is not only a fire hazard but can also lead to serious health problems such as respiratory problems and certain types of cancer.

The more creosote in a chimney, the more threatening it becomes. As it accumulates, it becomes thicker, harder to remove, and more flammable.

Can you see a hard, shiny tar-like substance or notice that your fire is struggling to burn and producing more smoke than normal? Don’t use your fireplace until you have a certified professional sweep your chimney. That is creosote in its most developed stage. As little as an eighth of an inch of creosote can start a chimney fire.

How to decrease the amount of Creosote Buildup:

1. Avoid using wet wood and never burn artificial logs. Those two products will increase the combustion by-products in smoke ultimately leading to more creosote. Firewood should be seasoned for at least 12 months before burning.

2. Allow the fire to get enough oxygen. This causes a cleaner burn and lessens the amount of smoke flowing through the chimney.

3. Warm-up your flue before using it. Lighting a fire with a cold flue produces condensation and larger creosote deposits. You can do so by lighting a rolled newspaper or piece of cardboard and holding it directly under the flue until the smoke flows properly up the chimney.

4. Put out the fire yourself instead of allowing it to burn itself out. This eliminates the creosote that a fire releases when it burns at a lower temperature.

Fireplace Safety

Chimney fires are preventable by keeping your fireplace and chimney up to code.

If you are concerned about the safety of your chimney, an inspection by an expert will allow you to know without a doubt whether it is or isn’t.

At Firetec, we believe in having the most certified and experienced technicians, which is why we are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) In order for our technicians to become CSIA certified, one must be sufficiently educated, trained, and pass extensive exams every 3 years.

If you find a technician certified by the CSIA, you can trust that you are in good hands. These certified pros aren't merely giving you their opinion, they are giving you facts about your chimney based on the NFPA and IRC standards and codes.

Do you remember the last time your fireplace was inspected, swept or notice any of the red flags we mentioned above? Don't risk costly repairs and health problems.

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