Chimney Fires and Maintenance

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Scheduling Fireplace Maintenance and a Chimney Sweep

fireplace and chimney home maintenanceIt is best to schedule fireplace maintenance and a chimney sweep before the cold of winter arrives. The cost of a service professional will be cheaper during the summer. If you wait until late fall or early winter, it will be tougher to schedule a service call and might cost more. Worse yet, delaying a good cleaning could result in a chimney fire and damage the integrity of the liner and brick. This is one maintenance task you do not want to pass by. It is very possible for chimney fire to take place without you even knowing it occurred. If the inspector does find structural problems, you could be staring down a several thousand dollar bill. But, I’d recommend getting a second opinion in the event heavy repairs are needed.

Chimney Fire

Creosote is the key ingredient that determines the likelihood of a chimney fire. This byproduct of fire is built up on the sides of the flue by smoke. The problem is creosote is flammable. Once enough of it is built up and the right spark comes along, a chimney fire occurs. Sometimes the fire turns into a full blown disaster. Other times it stays contained within the flue, but causes cracks in the tile liners in the flue.

If left unchecked, a couple smaller chimney fires can cause serious structural issues with the chimney. Don’t assume there isn’t a problem just because you haven’t seen it. Schedule a sweep and inspection on your home maintenance checklist every year.

Preventive Maintenance

The type of fuel of for the fire makes a big difference in determining the amount of creosote produced. Gas fires burn much cleaner that wood fires. Plus, a gas fire can be extinguished at the flip of a switch instead of smoldering for a while.

If you do have a wood burning fireplace, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Burn only seasoned wood – Never burn wood that isn’t completely dry or has been recently cut. The moisture in the wood will create extra smoke.
  • Avoid smoldering fires – As soon as there is more smoke than fire, extinguish the fire. Allowing the fire to smolder well after the fire has died down will do nothing allow smoke to build up creosote.
  • Keep the fire roaring – A good fire should be burning up everything and turning the wood into dust.

Chimney Maintenance and Sweep

fireplace maintenance to prevent chimney firesThe best option for the majority of owners is to call a professional to perform a sweep. The cost will be in the range of $100-200. Along with cleaning the chimney, every professional should inspect the structure for a cracks. Repairing cracks early on will prevent bigger problems later.

To perform a sweep will use a special brush to scrape off the creosote and soot built up on the surface of the flue. The sweep can be performed from the roof or from the firebox. It is preferred to do the sweep from the roof so the fireplace can be sealed up. The job gets very messy. Try to cover up and protect the room from dust. Be sure all the debris from the sweep is cleaned up before the next the fire.

Summary

Over half of the house fires each year are a result of a fireplace according the CPSC. These fires have resulted in billions of damage each year. Protect your home by scheduling a sweep and inspections on your home maintenance checklist.

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