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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!

Top 5 Reasons You Need Chimney Repairs

We rely on our fireplaces and chimneys to burn safely and efficiently year after year. For many homeowners, it is difficult to know when our chimneys are damaged or need repairs. The following are top 5 signs that your chimney need repairs.

1. There is water in the fireplace

masonry chimneyThe exterior masonry of chimneys is designed to withstand the exposure to wind, rain, sun, and more. The interior fireplace components, however, are much more delicate. Because of this, even small amounts of water in the fireplace can cause serious damage.

When water gets inside your fireplace, this results in a leaky chimney. When a leak occurs, it is important to have a chimney inspection and repairs by a certified chimney sweep. This ensures damage caused by water is properly repaired – and keep water from coming back.

2. There are cracks in the masonry

Small areas of chips, cracks, or missing masonry on the chimney are caused by long-term water damage that needs repairs. Oftentimes, the tuckpointing process can be used to remove old and damaged mortar by water. The chimney sweep carefully removes the old mortar before mixing and replacing new masonry. The result is a seamless repair that is indistinguishable from the original masonry.

Large cracks in the chimney can also be caused by the settling of your house or chimney. If the chimney is not built on proper pads or footing, the chimney can crack as it shifts and settles over time. A chimney inspection is often needed to determine if damage from settling is a structural issue or merely a cosmetic issue.

3. The chimney stinks

There are a number of causes for chimney odor. The type of smell your chimney has can be a clue to what the underlying cause is. Smoky odors, particularly on hot or humid days, are often the result of creosote buildup in the flue. A chimney sweeping can remove creosote, eliminating the smell and reducing the risk of an accidental chimney fire. Dank or damp odors are usually the result of a leaky chimney. The combination of water and cold, dark flues can result in mold or mildew growth when there is water present in the chimney.

4. The outside of the chimney is stained

Exterior masonry stains affects more than just your curb appeal. The color of the stain can reveal the root of the problem. Dark brown or black stains are often the result of drafting issues or an excess of creosote in the flue. Red or orange stains are usually caused by metal chimney components that are rusted, which is common on the sides of manufactured or factory-built chimneys.

5. The fireplace smokes when used

A fireplace that blows smoke back into the room when in use is the result of drafting issues. Drafting problems are caused by chimney height, the addition of new landscaping or nearby buildings, the installation of a new insert, or switching fuel sources. Having the flue relined or adding or subtracting height to the chimney are two ways to help improve fireplace drafting issues.

Our chimneys need regular maintenance to burn their best. For more information on chimney repairs or schedule your next appointment, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

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