FRIENDLY OR UNFRIENDLY FIRES
The unfriendly fire is an uncontrolled or hostile fire in the smoke chamber and flue that results in damage either to the flue or surrounding structure. A friendly fire is a romantic controlled fire in the firebox.
EVIDENCE OF CHIMNEY FIRE
- Puffed up, expanded creosote deposits in flue.
- Warped, twisted and heat stressed metal chimney.
- Popping and cracking noises during the fire.
- Cracked or fractured tile liners, cracked, missing bricks and missing mortar joints.
- Cracked tile, this may not sound dangerous but a crack can open during a fire, allowing smoke, sparks and flames to come dangerously close, threatening the wood framing around chimney and in the walls.
- Missing mortar joints can be just as dangerous as a crack, only larger than a crack.
- Oversized flue causes flue gases to cool and condense in chimney. Condensation (creosote) can cause a flue fire.
- Unlined Flue. Older chimneys were built without tile liners. This kind of chimney does not offer the protection from heat transfer to wood around flue. Unlined flues are oversized and are not safe for wood/pellet appliances. The manufacturers and local codes require a lined chimney.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- How can I prevent home heating hazards and save money?
- How often should my chimney be cleaned?
- Why does my chimney need a cover?
How can I prevent home heating hazards and save money?
Have your chimney checked every year (no matter how you heat your home) to make sure the chimney can do its job to properly vent hot, toxic gases and carbon monoxide from the heating system to the outdoors.
- To help reduce creosote build-up in your wood-burning chimney system, burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. If you don’t know how to build a hot, safe fire, ask us for tips on proper wood-burning techniques.
- Have a high quality, long-lasting chimney cap installed to keep out debris and prevent birds, animals and insects from nesting in your chimney.
- Following a violent storm, flood or lightning strike, have your chimney inspected for damage – inside and out. This includes checking for cracks and fallen bricks. For safety’s sake, DO NOT USE YOUR CHIMNEY until it is checked by one of our CSIA certified sweeps.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn of harmful gases that may be entering your home because of a blocked or damaged chimney.
- Have your chimney waterproofed to prevent long-term corrosion and masonry damage.
- Have your chimney flashing (the seal between the chimney and the roof) inspected and maintained. Flashing prevents rain water and snow melt from entering your home and causing costly damage to your walls and ceilings.
- Save energy dollars and eliminate unpleasant off-season odors. Have a sealing damper installed in your wood-burning chimney system.
- Have your chimney sweep ensure that your chimney has an appropriate liner.
- A little money now can save a lot of money and heartache down the line.
“How often should my chimney be cleaned?”
There is no steadfast rule on the frequency of a chimney cleaning. It can vary from once a month to once every ten years depending on a variety of factors. On the other hand, an annual inspection of all chimneys by a CSIA Certified Sweep, is extremely important.
Let’s consider both cleanings and inspections at length. First, frequency of cleaning will depend on:
- How often you use your fireplace. Obviously, persons who use their fireplace only occasionally for coziness are not going to have to clean their flues as often as persons who use their systems constantly throughout the season.
- The type of wood use. Freshly-cut softwoods usually build up creosote more quickly than well-seasoned hardwoods.
- Whether you have a stove or fireplace insert. They usually require attention much more often than an open fireplace. Also, the way you operate your stove or fireplace can and will have an effect on the amount of creosote you accumulate.
- The severity of the burning season and your geographic location. Understandably, the burning season will be different in the Pacific Northwest than in, say, the Deep South.
- The location of your chimney in your home. Even this – plus the type of chimney construction you have – can have a great influence on how quickly creosote builds up and how often cleaning may be necessary.
As you can see, the number of factors which influence your chimney’s cleaning schedule are many. Now, about those chimney inspections: All chimneys – yes, (wood, coal, oil and gas) should be thoroughly inspected once a year by a chimney professional. Never assume your chimney is safe even if you seldom or never use it. There are a whole host of problems that could cause an unsafe chimney or fireplace.
These problems could include:
- cracks or crevices caused by builder negligence
- normal settling of the chimney
- lightning strikes
- excessive use
- moisture damage
- nests and other obstructions…
The list goes on and on. In conclusion, consider the following: when an insurance company insures your property, it doesn’t do so because you are going to have a problem, but because possibly you could have a problem. When chimney sweeps inspect a chimney and fireplace, they, and you, hope they won’t find any problems. But if there are any there, you certainly want to know about it.
Complete and thorough chimney inspections should include rooftop, attic, firebox and foundation inspections