We are dedicated to preventing chimney fires in the homes of our customers by having trained technicians inspect your chimney system. This is the number one way to keep your home safe when using your wood stove, fireplace, or even a gas fireplace appliance. However, while our team of professionals is happy to help, there are many steps that you can take on your own to avoid chimney fires. So, how do chimney fires start and what can be done to prevent them? To learn more, here are some useful tips to help prevent chimney fires.

Keep the Chimney Clean

How do chimney fires start? In many cases, chimney fires are fueled by soot or creosote deposits in the chimney. These are byproducts of burning wood that are formed as smoke, gasses, and other substances condense in the chimney and become sticky. Creosote is incredibly flammable and must be removed to ensure the continued safety of your home. 

For more frequent and heavy burners, you may need more than an annual cleaning to get rid of your creosote. Our team will sometimes remove gallons of flammable creosote and soot from fireplaces and wood stoves. This is a risky gamble when you use your chimney on a daily basis, so it is important to determine whether or not you need bi-annual maintenance.

“What’s That Black Shiny Stuff in My Chimney?” 

That substance is tar coal creosote, which is often referred to as 3rd-degree creosote. This material can be rather challenging to remove, even for a seasoned sweep. People are often deceived into thinking their flue is clean — however, if the tar remains, it is the most dangerous kind of creosote and can burn at temperatures exceeding 2000 degrees! Therefore, one of the most important steps in preventing chimney fires is having them properly and regularly cleaned. 3rd-degree creosote has to be removed with either spinning steel whips or by chemical application, meaning that it is best to have a professional handle it.

Burn Dry, Seasoned Wood

While creosote will naturally form in the chimney the more you use your fireplace, there are some methods to reduce its accumulation. For example, burning dry and seasoned wood will help minimize the creosote buildup in your chimney. Seasoned wood is firewood that has been cut and stacked for over six months and is less moist than more recently chopped wood. Don’t be mistaken — creosote will still form, just at a reduced rate. If your wood hasn’t been properly seasoned, you may find it difficult to start your fires and will not get the full heat potential from the wood.

Keep the top of your wood covered so it stays dry and the wind can still pass through it. If you see water sizzling out the ends when burning, your wood is not seasoned. Most hardwoods take one year to season after they have been cut, split, and stacked. It is worth noting that certain tree species, such as birch and evergreen, don’t take as long to cure as species with denser wood.

Only Burn Accepted Fuel Sources

While burning seasoned wood is helpful for reducing the formation of creosote, you should only be burning wood in general. When you decide to put trash like cardboard and paper into the fireplace, thinking it’s a convenient method of disposal, it can create an intense fire. Another reason chimney fires start is because homeowners burn unaccepted fuel, so know what you’re putting into your fireplace before it’s too late. Additionally, using lighter fluid or kerosene to get the fire started can also make it too powerful, so avoid spraying any liquid accelerants.

Don’t Completely Shut the Oxygen From Your Wood Stove

Stoves will have a rod or lever used to choke or dampen the stove down to achieve longer burns. For convenience, many people fill the stove up before going to work or to bed and shut the air all the way down. However, this creates a messy chimney very fast! Instead of shutting oxygen off from your stove completely, you should:

Other Ways to Prevent House Fires

Use Fireplace Screens

Whenever you have a fire, you should always use fireplace screens. Many fires are caused by traveling sparks, and having a screen prevents them from escaping the fireplace and setting furniture on fire.

Keep the Fireplace Doors and Damper Open

This might seem like a simple method of preventing chimney fires, but this is another method of reducing the buildup of creosote — and you should do everything you can to prevent its accumulation!

Ensure There Is a Chimney Cap

Make sure your chimney has a screened chimney cap. These screens will not only keep animals out but will prevent sparks from landing on your roof.

Clean Up Ashes

After you’re done with your fire, you should always make an effort to get rid of the ashes. Store ashes in a metal container with a tight lid and do not store them on a combustible surface. Instead, bring them a few feet away from your home.

Always Watch Your Fire

Preventing a fire is impossible if you’re asleep! Always be sure to attend to your fireplace until it has thoroughly gone out. 

Keep Safety Equipment Around

No matter what kind of fireplace you own, having a fire extinguisher nearby to put out an uncontrollable flame is essential.

Call Chimney Heroes for Professional Services

Are you searching for an expert fireplace cleaner near me? Then the team at Chimney Heroes will be happy to assist you. We offer a variety of professional services to help keep your chimney in top shape, including metal chimney flue repair. If you live in Albany, Clifton Park, Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs, Queensbury, or the surrounding area and have any questions or concerns, we are happy to be your trusted sweep and best resource.