Creosote is a sticky, gummy substance that can build up on the inside of a chimney. Chimney fires can occur when creosote builds up inside the chimney, and then ignites when a fire is lit in the fireplace.
Methods to Avoid Chimney Fires
Creosote builds up inside the chimney for many reasons. Lingering smoke inside the chimney can cause creosote to build up more quickly than usual, so getting adequate air flow is an important part of protecting your chimney from creosote buildup. Avoid keeping fires behind glass to ensure that enough air is moving through your chimney at all times. Using unseasoned wood can also cause a chimney fire. The wood you burn in your chimney should be seasoned for at least 6 months, although it can take longer to properly season wood, depending on factors like the conditions where the wood is kept.
To ensure that your firewood is properly seasoned, purchase your firewood from a reputable dealer in your area, and inspect the wood before burning it. Seasoned firewood will have darkened ends with splits in them, and may be gray in color. If you suspect that your firewood is too green to burn, you can season it yourself by laying it out for at least six months, stacked in a criss-crossing format in a dry location.
Signs that You've Had a Chimney Fire
Chimney fires can make themselves known through loud popping noises originating inside the chimney, intense smoke and a whooshing noise, like a freight train running through the room. However, not all chimney fires are easily detectable. Knowing how to recognize the signs of a chimney fire is important for the safety of your home and everyone living inside it.
From the outside of your house, you may notice the distortion of the rain cap on the chimney or the distortion of the television antennae, if it is located next to the chimney. You may also see signs that smoke has escaped from cracks in the mortar around the chimney, or notice that the shingles around the chimney are curled or damaged. If you climb up on the roof and look down into the chimney, the creosote inside the chimney will be puffy and ashen. The liner inside the chimney may be warped or cracked.
If you think that your chimney may have had a fire inside of it, call for chimney repair immediately. Your chimney is not safe to use until an expert, such as someone from Carleton Chimney Services, has inspected the chimney and repaired any damage.