Over 20,000 chimney fires occur in the United States each year, which is significant considering many homes don’t even have fireplaces. It is common for homeowners to forget about fireplace maintenance, which puts safety at risk. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to prevent chimney fires with these five simple tips.
Clean the Flue to Prevent Chimney Fires
A buildup of materials inside the chimney can ignite. Keep your flue clean to prevent a chimney fire. Early in the fall, before the weather gets cold, have a professional chimney service clean and inspect your flue. They will remove debris like bird nests and buildup of creosote so that the smoke from the fireplace can exit the chimney safely.
Burn Seasoned Hardwoods
Choosing the right firewood helps reduce your risk of a chimney fire. When wood burns, it releases heat, smoke, and gases. Hot smoke coming into contact with the cool chimney walls creates a tarry material called creosote. Over time, the buildup of creosote becomes thick and may catch fire. To reduce the buildup, burn dry, seasoned hardwoods instead of wet or softwoods. A hotter fire produces less moisture and creosote.
Cap Your Chimney to Prevent Chimney Fires
Pine needles, leaves, and other debris can blow down your chimney. These may stick to the creosote or gather on the damper, creating a perfect place for a fire to start. Almost all of those materials can be kept out of the chimney by installing a cap. This device fits on top of the chimney and will block debris from entering your chimney. A chimney cap also helps prevent drafts from entering through the chimney and will reduce the amount of rainfall that gets inside.
Use Safe Fire Starters
Probably the most difficult part of building a fire is getting it started. Don’t use dangerous materials to give your fire a boost. Flammable, fire-starting liquids generate temperatures that can easily ignite creosote. They can also produce dangerous vapors. Use small kindling as a safer way to start your fire.
Prevent chimney fires with regular maintenance and cleaning. With the right wood and burning techniques, you’ll be prepared to enjoy your fireplace safely all winter long.