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What To Do If You Have A Chimney Fire

After a chimney fire, most homeowners are left with a lot of questions about the state of their chimney system: when will I be able to use my fireplace again? Will I have to have the entire chimney torn down? Is it even safe for us to stay in the house? A CSIA certified chimney sweep should always be the first person you call after a chimney fire.

In addition to answering any questions you have about the state of your chimney, they can also identify the damage the fire has caused and the necessary repairs you need. At Clean Sweeps of Michigan, we are the team to call if you have experienced a chimney fire in your home.

What are the signs of a chimney fire?

a house on fireChimney fires can be so small that they often go unnoticed. Sometimes, they can be large enough to spread to another part of your house. Whether there were flames spewing from the top of the chimney or unusual popping sounds when the fireplace is in use, the following are signs that you may have experienced a chimney fire.

  • Puffy creosote in the flue
  • Warped metal components such as the damper, smoke chamber connector pipe, or factory-built chimney pipe
  • Collapsing, cracked, or missing flue tiles
  • A distorted or discolored chimney cap
  • Fire or smoke damage to the roof surrounding the chimney
  • Pieces of creosote on the roof
  • Cracks to the exterior masonry
  • Signs of smoke escaping through the mortar joints of the masonry

Can my chimney be repaired after a chimney fire?

Each chimney fire causes unique damage. There is often not a single, simple solution for how to repair the chimney after a fire. An inspection by a certified chimney sweep is the most effective way to evaluate the damage caused by a chimney fire. Some common repairs after a chimney fire include:

  • Chimney sweeping and removal of remaining creosote
  • Repairing or replacing damaged flue tiles
  • Relining the flue
  • Repairing interior or exterior masonry
  • Rebuilding part or all of the chimney

How do I prevent a chimney fire?

The best way to prevent a chimney fire from occurring is by having regular chimney sweepings. In addition to removing soot and ash, chimney sweeping removes creosote. Creosote is highly flammable, as it is a byproduct of combustion. It can easily ignite from stray sparks or embers and is often the cause of chimney fires. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends homeowners have at least one chimney sweeping per year.

In addition to annual chimney sweepings, how you use your fireplace can also help to lower the risk of a chimney fire. Seasoned hardwoods should be used for firewood, as they burn most efficiently and produce the least amount of smoke and creosote. Softwoods such as pine may be fragrant, but they create more creosote than woods like ash or maple.

After a chimney fire, a certified chimney sweep is the best resource for answering questions and evaluating the condition of your fireplace and chimney. If you think you have experienced a chimney fire, contact the experts at Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

The Truth About Chimney Fires

More than 30% of American homes use fireplaces, stoves, and other fuel-burning appliances during the winter. While well-maintained heating appliances are safe and effective, preventative maintenance is an important part of ensuring your fireplace and chimney are ready to use each time you light a fire.

What to do during a chimney fireThe Truth About Chimney Fires

Chimney fires can be extremely frightening when they occur; knowing what to do in advance can help you be prepared in the event of a chimney fire.

1. Call 911 or the fire department immediately.
2. Evacuate everyone from the home.
3. Close the damper or air inlet controls. This limit’s the air supply to the fire and can help reduce the intensity. If the heating appliance has a barometric damper, close or plug the opening.
4. Open the doors of the heating appliance enough to insert a fire extinguisher. Discharge the entire contents of a dry chemical fire extinguisher and close the door again.
5. Wet down the roof or other nearby outdoor combustibles.
6. Monitor surfaces around the chimney; during a chimney fire combustible surfaces can become hot enough to ignite.
7. Contact your insurance provider.
8. Do not use the fireplace again until it has been inspected by a certified chimney professional.

Signs of a chimney fire

While large chimney fires can cause flames to shoot out of the top of the chimney or down into the firebox, smaller chimney fires can sometimes go unnoticed. Loud popping noises, sudden amounts of dense smoke, or a strong burnt smell are all indications of a chimney fire. The following signs may also indicate you have had a chimney fire.

  • Puffy creosote in the flue
  • The metal of the damper or smoke chamber connector pipe is warped
  • Cracked or collapsed flue tiles
  • Discolored, warped, or distorted chimney cap
  • Damage from smoke, heat, or sparks to areas of the roof
  • Soot, ash, embers, or pieces of creosote on the roof
  • Discoloration or cracks of exterior masonry
  • Evidence of smoke passing through mortar joints of the chimney

Whether you are sure you’ve had a chimney fire or only suspect a small fire may have occurred, it is important to contact a chimney sweep before using your fireplace again. A certified chimney sweep can assess the damage as well as recommend any needed repairs.

In the event of a minor chimney fire, repairs may be as minor as replacing damaged flue tiles or installing a new damper. For more serious fires, relining or even rebuilding may be recommended; rebuilding the chimney is only necessary in the event that the structural integrity of the chimney has been compromised.

If you have experienced a chimney fire, need to have your chimney inspected for signs of a fire, or simply want to learn more about preventing chimney fires, contact the experts at Clean Sweeps of Michigan today. Our chimney sweeps can help ensure your fireplace and chimney are clean, safe, and ready to use again after a chimney fire.

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