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Chimney Fires 101: What You Need to Know

One of the most important topics that new chimney sweeps study is chimney fires: what causes them, how to prevent them, and the damage they do. Chimney fires can happen in any chimney fed by a wood-burning fireplace.

Doodlebuggers Fireplace, Grill & Outdoor Store of Pensacola, FL, and Destin, FL, would like to share some helpful points about chimney fires. You won’t be ready to go to work as a chimney sweep after reading, but you just may prevent a devastating situation in your home.

chimney fire prevention in destin flFacts about chimney fires

  • A chimney fire can burn at more than 2,000 degrees. This is enough heat to seriously damage the chimney liner and masonry and set fire to adjacent materials of the home.
  • More than 25,000 chimney fires are reported in the United States each year. Most are started by ignited creosote, a byproduct of smoke condensation in the flue.
  • Not all chimney fires are aggressive, destructive events; some are relatively small, starting and going out on their own without being noticed.
  • Starting a deliberate chimney fire to burn creosote out of your chimney is a very bad idea that comes with a high price.

How you can avoid a chimney fire

If you use a wood fireplace, you can’t completely stop creosote production, but you can take some steps to dramatically reduce the chance of a chimney fire. Here are three steps.

1. Burn only dry wood

Dry, seasoned wood has a much lower moisture content than wood that’s freshly cut. Moisture causes a lot of smoke, and smoke is how creosote starts.

Creosote can present as a sticky, flaky, puffy, or solid substance. Because all stages of creosote are caused by smoke, you want to keep smoke to a minimum by using only dry firewood.

2. Ensure a proper draft

Drafting a fireplace is a two-sided job: one side is in the flue, and the other is in your home.

Fire needs air to burn. If your flue is full of creosote, tree debris, small animal nests and animals that have died in your chimney, the firebox won’t receive sufficient air to burn logs efficiently. Inefficient burning causes excess smoke.

If your home is extremely airtight, your chimney may have trouble creating a good draft to draw smoke through the firebox and make logs burn robustly. Sometimes, cracking a nearby window will solve this problem.

chimney sweeps in pensacola fl

3. Have your chimney swept once a year

Professional chimney sweeps use specialized tools and equipment to remove even the most stubborn creosote from chimney flues. All fire safety agencies in the U.S. recommend annual chimney cleaning.

Along with removing creosote, a chimney sweep will also remove the debris mentioned above. A thorough, annual chimney cleaning reduces the chance of a chimney fire and ensures that your flue is open to create an efficient draft.

Signs of a chimney fire

Watch for these common signs:

  • A strange clicking or tapping sound coming from the fireplace
  • Excess dense smoke exiting either end of your chimney
  • The sound of rumbling, like from a train

If you notice any of these signs, call 911 immediately and remove people and pets from your home. Do not attempt to put out a chimney fire on your own!

After the situation is resolved, schedule a chimney inspection before using your chimney again.

Call your Florida chimney experts

If it’s been more than a year since your chimney was cleaned and serviced, now is the time to schedule this important work. Doodlebuggers provides expert chimney sweeping, chimney inspections, and chimney repair services. We know how to keep your chimney safe.

Reach a chimney expert today at (850) 477-1151 in Pensacola, FL, or at (850) 243-0154 in the Destin, FL, area. You can also get in touch with our handy contact form.


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