What You Can Do to Prevent a Chimney Fire

Here are some useful tips during the year to help prevent chimney fires.

We are dedicated to preventing chimney fires in the homes of all 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. Here are some other useful tips during the year to help prevent chimney fires.

Keep the chimney clean

Chimney fires are fueled by soot or creosote deposits in the chimney. These are byproducts of burning wood and must be removed.

For heavy burners, you may need more than an annual cleaning. We will sometimes remove gallons of flammable creosote and soot from fireplaces and wood stoves. This is a risky gamble when using your chimney daily. Determine if you need bi-annual maintenance.

“What’s that black shiny stuff in my chimney?” That is tar coal creosote, often referred as 3rd degree creosote. This can be a challenged even for a seasoned sweep. People are often deceived thinking their flue is clean, however if the tar remains it is the most dangerous of creosote and can burn at temperatures exceeding 2000 degrees! It must be removed either by spinning steel whips or chemical application

Burn Dry, Seasoned wood

This will help minimize your creosote buildup in your chimney. 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 hard woods take one year to season after they have been cut, split, and stacked.

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. This creates a messy chimney very fast!

  • Give the wood time to combust. This can take 20-30 minutes before you can shut down the stove
  • Never completely shut it down, leave a small amount of air available unless you only have red coals
  • If you see black on your glass you have a dirty burn. A white or brown film is normal and a sign of good burning practices.

Other ways to prevent house fires:

  • Always use fireplace screens. Many fires are caused by traveling sparks
  • 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
  • Store ashes in an approved container with a tight lid and do not store on a combustible surface.


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.