How to Prevent a Chimney Fire

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During the cold winter months, the feeling of snuggling up against a warm fire in your home can’t be beat. It’s cozy and comfortable. The last thing you want to worry about during these cinema-style scenes is your chimney catching fire and going up in smoke.

A chimney fire isn’t as farfetched as it might seem. These types of fires are more common. There are over 22,000 chimney fires each year, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. These fires cause massive destruction, turning a serene moment into a nightmare. Fortunately, they can be prevented with a little bit of extra care and precaution.

Types of Chimney Fires

Surprisingly, not all chimney fires are alike. There are two distinct types of fires you should be aware of before burning a fire in your fireplace.

1. Free Burning. A free burning fire is loud and unmistakable. You’ll see large flames billowing out of your home and chimney. These fires are obvious and require the immediate attention of firefighters.

2. Slow Burning. Slow burning fires cause the same amount of destruction but are more dangerous because you don’t always know they’re happening. As the name implies, these fires burn slowly. The high temperatures can cause major structural damage to your chimney, roof, and eventually your home.

Preventing These Fires

The first step to preventing these fires is to burn smarter. A few things you should never use to start or stoke a fire include:

• Larger logs (smaller is better)
• Cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, or holiday décor (such as Christmas trees)
• Gasoline or kerosene

Start your fires with clean newspaper and dry, natural kindling.

Another thing to consider when preventing these types of fires is the internal structure of your chimney. You don’t look up into your chimney on a daily basis, and for good reason. Seeing inside of your chimney is difficult and requires the help of a trained professional.

To prevent these fires, the first step is to have your chimney inspected. A chimney sweep will come to your house and remove excess buildup from your walls. Ask and they will also point out any cracks or crevices that could heighten your risk of a slow burning fire.

If your chimney sweep sees any exposed areas, it’s time to repair them with fire caulking. This material will dry quickly (within 10 – 15 minutes) and stop sparks or flames from sneaking into your home. It’s the best way to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable winter season by the coziness of your fireplace.