What You Should Do After a Chimney Fire
Chimney fires can be quick and minor or huge and destructive. The majority are caused by creosote igniting in the chimney flue. National Chimney Cleaners of Fairfield County, CT, and Morris County, NJ, would like to share some valuable information about chimney fires and what you should do if you have one.
Creosote starts fires
Creosote is a substance that forms when wood burns and smoke condenses in the chimney flue. Highly flammable, creosote can be sticky, flaky, puffy or solid. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, you can’t avoid creating creosote, which is the cause of most chimney fires.
Signs that you have an active chimney fire
It’s important to keep in mind that not all chimney fires are obvious. Many start and go out on their own without people in the house knowing about them. Most chimney fires give clues, such as:
- Excess dark smoke exiting either end of the chimney
- Chunks of sooty creosote falling into the fireplace
- Strange clicking or tapping sounds
- The sound of rumbling, like from a faraway train
If you notice any of these clues, here’s what to do, in order:
1. Call 911 immediately
2. Extinguish the fire in the fireplace if it’s safe to do so
3. Get all people and pets out of the house
4. Wait for emergency services to arrive
Under no circumstances should you get on the roof and try to put out the chimney fire!
Clues that indicate a previous chimney fire
As we said, some chimney fires are of short duration and go out without being noticed. But often they leave clues, including:
• Sooty stains on the bricks near the top of the chimney
• Cracks in the chimney masonry
• Discolored chimney cap
• Ashes and charred debris on the roof near the chimney
• Flue tiles detaching and falling into the firebox
What to do after a fire
If you know or suspect that your chimney has caught fire, the very first step is to schedule a chimney inspection.
A qualified chimney inspector will investigate closely, using video imaging to see down into the flue. Depending on the state of the chimney, he or she will check for damage to the chimney liner, chimney bricks and mortar, adjacent materials of the home and components of the chimney, such as the chimney cap, crown, flashing and damper. When the damage is identified, chimney repairs can be made to restore safety and efficiency to your chimney.
Reduce the chance of a chimney fire
As a homeowner, you can do a lot to reduce the chance of a chimney fire in the future. Here are three tips.
1. Schedule annual chimney sweeping services and chimney inspections, whether or not you’ve had a chimney fire.
2. Burn only seasoned (dry) firewood, which is less smoky than damp, unseasoned wood. Remember: smoke causes creosote, and creosote causes fires.
3. Never use your fireplace to burn clothing, cardboard, plastics, metals, painted boards, magazines or anything else that isn’t actual firewood.
Our job is to keep your chimney safe and healthy
National Chimney Cleaners is standing by to help restore your chimney following a chimney fire. We provide complete inspection, chimney cleaning and chimney repair services. We’re also here to maintain your chimney with annual cleaning and inspection.
If you live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, or Morris County, New Jersey, speak with a chimney expert today at 800-631-6177. You can also get in touch through our simple contact form.