Chimney Fires can Be Prevented
How many chimney fires are there in a year?
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are approximately 25,000 chimney fires a year in the United States. The CSIA claims that these fires result in 125 million dollars in damage.
What is a chimney fire?
Chimney fires can be described as fires that result from heat escaping through the liner into combustible areas of the home. These fires can be violent and obvious or they can begin as a smoldering and undetectable fire deep within the rafters of an attic.
How do we know if our masonry fireplace is safe?
Masonry fireplaces are not usually the main heating element in a modern home and serve mainly as a focal point for short periods of time around an open fire. A masonry fireplace will perform safely for years if it is cleaned, inspected, and repaired regularly. A well-crafted chimney will last hundreds of years with proper maintenance.
In an effort to snatch up the limited supply of single-family homes in this competitive housing market, some buyers are opting out of the home inspection process. This leads to many questions about the safety of their masonry fireplaces.
Sometimes we are asked to comment on the condition of a masonry chimney. We suggest that a masonry chimney company do the inspection to make sure the outside structure is secure and strong enough to support the metal chimney lining that our products will employ. The venting components in the modern gas or wood-burning products are manufactured and tested for safety and add another level of comfort to homeowners opting for these upgrades.
According to our favorite chimney sweep, Victor, from Copperfield Chimney Sweeps in Minneapolis, most chimney fires occur in the chimney box or fire chamber portion of the chimney. In his 30 years of chimney sweeping, Victor has seen a small percentage of damaged liners. The majority of damage occurs from animal nests within the chimney. Victor’s solution is a simple chimney screen that will prevent animals from building nests in the chimney and will still allow moisture and gases to be expelled.
How often should we clean our chimney?
If you burn well-seasoned wood in your fireplace often, you should clean and inspect your chimney and damper every 2 to 3 seasons. The chimney sweep should inspect and repair the firebox and the smoke chamber. These are the areas of the chimney that are exposed to the highest temperatures and where there is more likely to be damaged mortar. Regular cleaning is all you should need to keep your chimney working properly. Relining the chimney is rarely necessary. (image taken from this website)