Enjoying a cozy fire in your fireplace is what makes cool weather and shorter days easier to deal with. When routine maintenance is overlooked, however, lighting a fire can be dangerous for your home and anyone living in it.

Chimney fires are a constant threat to the chimney that hasn’t been cleaned and inspected. In the name of safety and a love for our community, The Chimney Guys would like to share with you three of the most common causes of chimney fires – and what you can do to lower your chimney’s risk of being host to one of these dangerous events.

Cause 1: Animals Building Nests in the Chimney

roof on fire surrounded by dark smokeAnimals love chimneys and when they find their way in, they can do a lot of damage. Animals such as squirrels, raccoons, and birds are often drawn to chimneys because they provide a warm and secure place to build a nest. Not only can this tear up the lining of your flue, the materials brought in by the animals can quickly collect and cause the airway to become blocked. And once they dry up, you’re looking at fire hazards, as well.

What can you do to stop them?

One of the best things you can do to prevent animals from entering your chimney is having a chimney cap installed. A chimney cap is a metal cover that is placed over the top of the chimney. It is designed to direct water away from the opening in your chimney and to keep unwanted things such as debris and, yes, animals, from becoming tenants in your home.

It is also important to inspect your chimney regularly for signs of animal activity. Look for nests, droppings, and other evidence of animal activity, and take appropriate steps to remove the animals from your chimney. Often, the first sign of animal activity is the noises they make. 

If you hear or see anything that suggests an animal is living rent-free in your chimney, give The Chimney Guys a call. We can do a thorough chimney inspection and make sure everything is removed safely so that everyone is happy in the end.

Cause 2: Loose Debris

Every homeowner knows the importance of keeping your gutters clean, as well as the surprising amount of stuff that collects in the gutters over time. Loose debris such as leaves, twigs, and other natural materials can find their way into your chimney fairly easily if it’s not protected. Over time, this debris can collect and clog up your chimney’s airway. And as it dries out it can become incredibly combustible, turning your chimney into a tinder box and catastrophe waiting to happen. 

Debris can enter the chimney from a variety of sources, including nearby trees, wind, and animals. Even if it doesn’t seem like there is a source nearby, wind and animals can carry leaves, sticks, seeds, and rocks quite a long way.

How can I keep debris out of my chimney?

The same way a chimney cap is effective in keeping animals out, it is effective at keeping debris out too. When installing a chimney cap it is important to make sure that it fits correctly and is securely fastened to the appropriate places. The Chimney Guys have a team of trained experts that know exactly how to fit and install chimney caps. If you need a chimney cap or if the chimney cap you have is showing wear, call The Chimney Guys today.

Another important step to keeping debris from collecting in your chimney is to schedule regular inspections and sweepings for your chimney. Your chimney should be swept at least once a year. Not only does this get rid of any built up debris in your chimney, it also protects you from the most common cause of chimney fires – creosote buildup

Cause 3: Creosote Buildup

close up view of puffy, tar-like creosoteThe most common cause of chimney fires is creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly combustible substance that is created when wood is burned. It forms on the inside of the chimney as a black, tar-like substance that can ignite when exposed to high temperatures.

Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood and other organic materials. When wood is burned, it releases a variety of gases. The smoke you see coming out of the chimney is actually carrying hazardous fumes with it. Creosote is created when these gases condense and stick to the inside of the chimney.

Creosote forms when wood is burned at a low temperature or when the air supply to the fire is restricted. This can cause the wood to smolder and produce more smoke and creosote than if it were burned at a higher temperature with plenty of air.

How can I slow creosote buildup?

The best way to slow the buildup of creosote in your chimney is to burn dry, seasoned wood at a high temperature. Dry wood burns hotter and produces less smoke and creosote than wet or green wood. It is also important to ensure that there is adequate air supply to the fire, which can help it burn more efficiently and at a higher temperature.

Making sure that your chimney is in good shape, properly cleaned, and well-lined is an important part of slowing creosote buildup. Making sure that you are having your chimney inspected and swept each year by our professionals at The Chimney Guys is the best way to get that creosote out.

Call Us Out Soon

Chimney fires can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. If you experience a chimney fire the first thing you should do is get out of the home and away from the fire. The second thing you need to do is call the fire department. Your safety is the most important thing.

To lower your risk of having a chimney fire, call The Chimney Guys today at 434-481-3796 to schedule a sweeping and inspection – you can also book online. We’re here to give you peace of mind while you enjoy the warmth and glow of your fireplace.