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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Chrisman-Jones

How to Prevent a Chimney Fire

Regular maintenance of your chimney, annual inspections, and burning the right types of properly treated, seasoned firewood can all drastically reduce your home’s chances of suffering a chimney fire. Before you create your first cozy fire of the season in the Nashville area, take a closer look at what causes chimney fires, how you can prevent chimney fires, and how Chim Chimney can help.

What Causes Chimney Fires?

Most chimney fires are caused by creosote. Firewood, especially green firewood that gives off thick smoke, creates a byproduct called creosote as it burns. This byproduct will coat the inside of your flue, and layer after layer will build up inside your fireplace. Because creosote is so flammable, it can alight from a stray spark drifting up your fireplace. It can even ignite just due to the high temperatures within your chimney when a fire is going. 

A small bit of creosote doesn’t present a large danger. However, buildup from months or years of fires will form a thick crusty or sticky shell inside your chimney. It’s important to clear away all of this creosote at least once a year.

Learn How to Prevent Chimney Fires by Utilizing These Chimney Maintenance Tips

Between professional inspections and cleanings, there is a lot that homeowners in Nashville can do to keep their chimneys in safe operating condition. We recommend taking these steps:

  1. Open your damper. Most fireplaces have a damper or a door near the base of the chimney that can be opened and closed to let smoke out and fresh air in. You may keep your damper closed throughout most of the year, so cool air can’t counteract your furnace. But it’s important to open it before starting a fire so the smoke can escape and creosote doesn’t build up as quickly. Because creosote is what causes chimney fires most often, preventing its buildup is essential. An open chimney’s negative pressure will pull the smoke up and out, so your home stays clean, and the air quality remains high.

  2. Choose the right firewood. Hardwoods, approved fire logs, and properly seasoned woods are all acceptable options for lighting a fire, as they burn relatively cleanly. Greenwood, Christmas trees, plywood, and non-approved types of wood present a danger of filling your home’s air with dangerous chemicals or generating excessive smoke and creosote.

  3. Keep an eye on the temperature: While your fireplace and chimney are designed to handle high temperatures, keeping your fire in the right temperature range reduces creosote buildup and potential damage. Use a probe thermometer to ensure your flue gasses don’t exceed 1000°F. Generally, a 600-1000°F range is best, though depending on your chimney manufacturer’s instructions.

Why Scheduling an Annual Inspection Is Important

An annual chimney inspection from Chi Chimney is handled by a certified expert who can inspect the chimney interior and exterior for damage and potential hazards. We can also monitor the progression of creosote buildup to ensure it’s at safe levels or recommend a cleaning. If you light a fire only once or twice a year, for example, your chimney may not need a thorough cleaning as often as a chimney used more regularly. Even further along the spectrum, if you use a fireplace almost every day throughout the winter, you may need more frequent inspections and cleanings. A friendly expert from our team can walk you through what causes chimney fires, what damage your chimney may have, and how to prepare it for every winter.

Call the Experts at Chim Chimney

At Chim Chimney, we provide certified chimney inspection services, maintenance and repairs, and more for homeowners across Nashville, Tennessee, and the surrounding communities. Contact our team today to schedule your inspection and prepare for the chilly weather this fall and winter! CONTACT

Image Source: Breadmaker/Shutterstock


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