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Prevent Fire Damage to Your Chimney
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
You'd think chimneys would be the last place you'd have to worry about fire damage, since they are constructed to go directly over fires and provide an effective exit for smoke, sparks and heat from the home. However, dirty chimneys are common culprits when it comes to chimney fires; they may cause house fires, destroying the home and injuring occupants.
Most chimney fires burn slowly, not explosively, and as a result they may not be apparent to passersby or neighbors, or even the occupants of the home where the fire is occurring. However, these slow burning chimney fires are still very dangerous and steps should be taken to prevent them from happening in the first place.
What Not to Use in a Fireplace
It is recommended to use seasoned woods in your fireplace; they present less of a fire hazard. Smaller, hotter fires are preferable over a large, blazing fire since they produce less smoke and burn more completely. Also cardboard boxes, paper, garbage, and Christmas trees should not be burned in the fireplace as they may spark a chimney fire.
How Fires Damage Chimneys
Chimney fires typically burn at an amazing 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to melt mortar, crack tiles, and cause liners to collapse, effectively damaging the outer masonry material. Once these elements have been compromised, it becomes possible for the flames to reach the interior of the home. The fire then spreads and becomes a serious house fire, destroying the residence from the top down.
To determine if you’ve experienced a small chimney fire, look for puffy creosote residue that has expanded beyond its normal form, warped metal around the damper or connector pipe, collapsed flue tiles, damaged roofing material, cracks in the masonry, or any evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints or liners.
If a Fire Occurs in the Chimney
If you suspect that there is a fire in your chimney, promptly get everyone out of the home and call the fire department. If you can do so without compromising your safety, use a fire extinguisher and spray it directly into the fireplace or wood stove. You should then close the glass doors on the fireplace to help prevent the problem from spreading.
Use a garden hose to spray down the roof of the home to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the structure and monitor chimney temps throughout the house for at least 3 hours after the fire has been put out.
Professional fire restoration technicians should be brought in to help determine the cause of the fire and take appropriate steps to prevent it from happening again.