Chimney fires are serious! Temperatures in the chimney during a chimney fire can reach over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to destroy the chimney liner and possibly set the house on fire.
Some chimney fires go unnoticed by the homeowner. Others sound like a freight train running through the house, and display thirty- foot flames shooting from the chimney top. Either way, they are bad news
Things to do if you have a chimney fire
- Call the fire department
- Get everybody out of the house
- If you have a chimney fire extinguisher, use it.
- Close stove air inlets on stoves and glass doors (if you have them) on fireplaces.
- Have the chimney cleaned and checked by a chimney professional before you use it again.
Some people think a chimney fire is a good way to clean the flue. They are wrong! Starting a chimney fire deliberately is foolish and dangerous. You could burn your house down.
And even if the house survives, you could cause thousands of dollars of damage to the chimney lining, or create hidden fire damage. Most chimneys have combustible materials in direct contact with the exterior surface of the chimney. If the chimney fire doesn't catch them on fire, it might still scorch or bake these combustible materials, making them more likely to ignite next time or the time after that. Play it safe, and leave cleaning the chimney to a chimney professional.
How can you avoid chimney fires?
Learn to operate your fireplace or stove correctly, and follow a regular routine of chimney cleaning. Especially for wood stove users, proper operation and the use of correct fuel are essential. Long, slow burns or the use of green or wet wood can create dangerous creosote deposits very quickly, especially in older, less efficient stoves.
Creosote: A product of incomplete combustion: deposits of unburned, flammable tar vapors from wood smoke. Sometimes it's crusty or flaky in texture, but often sticky or hard, like slag. Creosote deposits are often hard to remove from chimneys, and pose a serious fire hazard.
Proper operation will not only reduce the risk of chimney fires, it will also increase the efficiency of the appliance, reduce pollution, and save wood.