Top 5 signs you had a chimney fire

Many people have chimney fires without even realizing it. Here are some of the tell-tale signs you need to look out for.

If you have a wood or oil burning chimney, the last thing you want is a chimney fire. While most people know that chimney fires are an all-too-common danger, few can recognize the dangerous signs if you have already had one. It’s possible to have a chimney fire without even knowing it.

A chimney fire in progress will present a few common clues:

  • Loud cracking or popping noise of flue tile.
  • A loud whistling noise
  • Unusually dense smoke rising from the chimney
  • A hot, burning smell

Most chimney fires are not extreme, torch-blazing fires shooting out the top of your chimney. Most are a quiet, slow burning, intense heat trapped inside your chimney. The lack of oxygen inside the chimney prevents a dramatic or visible event. It’s not uncommon to have several chimney fires in one burning season. When it goes undetected, the danger rises.

Here are the top signs you’ve ALREADY HAD a chimney fire:

1. Puffy Creosote

Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mainly of tar. It’s extremely flammable. Creosote can build up and begin to block or greatly restrict your flue. If you see creosote build up in larger pieces, all puffed up like Rice Krispies, you’ve probably have had one or more chimney fires.

Our certified technicians here at Chimney Heroes can inspect the creosote in your chimney and determine right away if you have had a chimney fire, and get it cleaned and ready for service again right away.

2. Cracks in your flue tile

Cracks can occur during rapid heating or cooling of your chimney flue tiles. A chimney fire can create heat in excess of 2100°F degrees in a matter of seconds. Some of these cracks are difficult to spot and require the aid of a specialized chimney camera. Even small cracks will expand from the heat of a normal fire, allowing creosote to begin building up behind your chimney liner wall.

3. Discolored or warped chimney cap

The stainless-steel chimney caps will discolor under intense heat, usually presenting a rainbow-like sheen or reflection. A chimney fire can also warp and distort the screen, the weakest part of the chimney cap.

4. Black debris on your roof or in your yard

The stronger the heat in your chimney, the stronger the draft becomes, often lifting soot up and out, settling onto your roof or lawn. In some cases, this can result in another, separate fire. Dangerous!

5. Exterior cracks in the masonry chimney

Cracks in your masonry can be caused by thermal cracking and improper chimney constructions, or by water damage and the effect of freezing-and-thawing. One is caused by chimney fires, the other by weather. A professional can tell the difference, and it’s a very important distinction.

If you live in Albany, Niskayuna, Clifton park, Saratoga Springs, Queensbury or surrounding area, we at Chimney Heroes will help to ensure your chimney is safe with thorough inspection and cleanings when needed.

For more information on chimney fires, please visit