Chimney Fires

Would You Know if You Had a Chimney Fire?

Enjoy your fireplaceWhen you think of a fire in your home, probably one of the last places you would think that one would occur would be in your chimney. Especially when you think that a chimney is usually made of brick, masonry and lined with metal.

But chimney fires are one of the leading causes of fire in the home.

With winter approaching and the air turning colder – everyone starts looking forward to those cozy nights in front of the fireplace.

But there could be hidden danger there….

Purpose of a chimney:

Your chimney has a definite purpose:

  • To carry away from the home and its occupants dangerous gases and smoke
  • To carry away excessive heat from areas that could easily catch fire.
  • To help you enjoy the warmth of a fire while keeping the air breathable.

But they can also be the deadly home of an unnoticeable fire.

Chimney FireOftentimes the homeowner doesn’t notice that the chimney is on fire. If there is not enough air or fuel, the fire will be slow burning and not dramatic or visible.

But they can reach very high temperatures and cause a great deal of damage to the chimney itself as well as to nearby combustible parts of the house.

At other times, when conditions are right chimney fires can be explosive and send flames and thick smoke shooting upward.

In an earlier post, we talked about Creosote, and the danger of its buildup inside your fireplace chimney. Along with checking for creosote, you need to check your chimney annually to make sure it is not in need of repairs.

Commonly needed fireplace and chimney repairs:

  • Repair of the Firebox – The firebox is the part of the fireplace where you build your fire. Broken or loose bricks and degraded mortar need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Damper repair – The damper is the device that closes the flue when your fireplace is not in use, keeping heat from escaping through the chimney.
  • Mortar crown repair – The mortar crown is at the top of the chimney and is designed to keep water out of your flue. If it is cracked or broken, it should be repaired immediately to prevent water damage.
  • Flue repair – The flue is located inside the chimney and is the path by which gas and smoke are vented to the outside. If the flue is cracked, broken, is blocked or has creosote buildup it is a hazard and needs to be repaired.

Fireplaces also put off carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas, which should also exit through the chimney. And although it is not a fire hazard, it  is extremely dangerous to your health, and is another reason for good maintenance of your chimney.

Now is a good time of year to have your roof and your chimney inspected.

If your roof needs to be replaced, give us a call for a free estimate.

206-446-4972

 

**originally published 3/7/11

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