Owning a home with amenities is an amazing feeling. When purchasing a home, home buyers look for as many extra amenities in a home that is possible. In colder areas, you might have a strong desire to purchase a home with a fireplace. Additionally, in warmer areas, you might want a home with a swimming pool or enclosed patio. Either way, amenities are nice add-ons to a home. Keep in mind that having something extra like a fireplace will require added maintenance. You should really look to maintain your chimney on a regular basis. As you use the fireplace, creosote can build up in your chimney lining and create some unsafe conditions, such as a fire. Will a chimney fire burn itself out? No, you will likely need to put the fire out and call the fire department.
Let’s take a look below at what this all means.
How Does It Happen
Chimney fires can start with as simple of a reason as the chimney being too dirty. When you start a fire inside your fireplace, the burning logs and paper will give off a residue. As the smoke rises through your chimney, the residue can stick to the chimney’s flue. Over time, this creosote that has been created will build up. Because it is a sticky or tacky residue, the wood chips or embers that are floating through the air could stick to the residue.
When you start your next fire, this could ignite the creosote buildup in the chimney and begin to burn quickly. Unfortunately, when this occurs, the chimney gets very hot and starts to break down. The metal of the chimney’s flue begins to melt and now the extreme heat can gain access to other parts of your house. Essentially, igniting your roof or other wooded portions of the home.
Other items that could start a chimney fire include, nests created by birds, raccoons, squirrels, or other rodents. They will pack dirt and sticks and leaves into the chimney. When a fire is created in the fireplace, these items will burst into flames and start your chimney fire. Having a chimney cap will protect your chimney from this occurring.
What Can I Do To Stop It
There are a few things you can do to put out a chimney fire. Let’s take a look.
- Escape the flames – your main objective is to get everyone out of the house. Always be sure to have an evacuation plan for you and your family, in the event of a fire.
- Call 911 – once everyone is safely out of the house, call 911. Emergency services can respond quickly and ensure that the fire is properly extinguished before it causes major damage to the home.
- Turn off the fuel – if the fire isn’t major yet, you can work to remove the oxygen that is fueling the fire. Close the damper or flue openings to shut off the fire from any oxygen source. Additionally, grab your fire extinguisher and push short bursts into the fire source. Also, consider using sand, salt, or baking soda to put out the flames in your main firebox.
- Spray it down – take your water hose from the outside of the house and begin spraying the chimney down. Make sure to use a gentle stream to ensure no damage is caused to the inside of the chimney.
- Clean it out – remove all wood that was burned from your firebox or firepit in the fireplace. Use a metal bucket and scoop all of the debris from the fireplace so that it doesn’t keep fueling the fire.
- Chimney extinguisher – use a product like a chimney extinguisher that is meant to suffocate a fire and safely put it out.
- Trust Emergency Services – even if you believe that the fire has been extinguished, you will want the fire department to pay a visit and ensure that the fire is completely out. They can inspect the chimney and ensure that you will not have any further issues.
How Can I Prevent This
The best way to prevent any type of chimney fire is to have your chimney swept on a regular basis. It is recommended that you have the creosote removed from your chimney flue after each usage. Also, keep in mind that you should have the chimney inspected after each usage so that you can ensure no damage has occurred to the chimney. Hire a chimney professional to inspect the chimney system for any damage to your chimney.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you know about chimney fires and how to put them out, let’s take a look at other areas of maintenance. One of those is cleaning the fireplace brick. This is done by brushing the soot and spraying the remnants with various chemicals is the best way to go.
Next, you will want to check your fireplace for carbon monoxide. To do this, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed, as well as ensure the fireplace is well-ventilated. Also, make sure you have a chimney sweep and the fireplace is installed correctly.
Lastly, if you have a gas fireplace, keep in mind that black soot is dangerous. If it builds up, it can explode and cause a fire. To keep this from happening, there are several ways and one is to clean the inside of the walls of the fireplace.
When Do I Call A Professional
When it comes to a chimney, you will want to hire a professional chimney sweep. They are trained and experienced in how to clean your chimney flue and chimney parts. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect the chimney and fireplace to ensure it is all working properly. Also, they can recommend a reputable chimney sweep in your local area.
Purchasing a home with a fireplace can be an exciting thing. Most homeowners enjoy cozying up to a fire in their fireplace during the cooler nights. The ambiance and aesthetics that a fireplace provides are very calming. Keep in mind, it is important to maintain the fireplace and chimney to avoid a potential fire. The inside of a chimney can get very hot. If there is creosote built up in the chimney a fire could spark. This creates a very dangerous situation for you and your family. Call on your local home inspection team to certify that it is safe before you use the fireplace each season. Alpha building inspectors can check the fireplace in the home to ensure it is maintained and not damaged when conducting a home inspection in Merrimack, New Hampshire, and surrounding areas.