HOW TO AVOID CHIMNEY FIRES
Creosote is the main cause of chimney fires.
You might have a creosote problem if you are experiencing sour, sickly chimney odor. A buildup of creosote is highly combustible and can result in a chimney fire. But it’s easy to avoid chimney fires and costly repairs by:
Burning seasoned wood only.
Not burning trash in a fireplace or woodstove.
Not allowing your fire to smolder.
And, of course, calling a chimney professional (like me) to inspect and clean your chimney regularly.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE A CHIMNEY FIRE
Get everyone out of the house.
Call the fire department.
Don’t close the damper to try to contain the fire. If you have a fireplace with glass doors, close the doors and the vents. If you have a woodstove, close the doors and air inlets.
If flames are visible at the chimney top, hose down the roof, but not the chimney. Spraying water on a hot chimney could damage it.
Give me a call before you use your chimney again. Even a small chimney fire can damage your chimney, making it unsafe to use. Every time I check a chimney I also do a 15-point inspection that finds problems before they can endanger your family or your property.
EASY TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR FIRE
Just like you I love the warmth and smell of a good fire, to help you enjoy yours I’d like to share a few easy tips for starting your fire.
Tip 1: Open your damper. I know it sounds silly but this happens more often than most people care to admit…even me.
Tip 2: Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients for a good fire. You’ll need tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder can be a few sheets of crumpled up newspaper, small twigs, pine needles or pine cones. For kindling you can use: large twigs, small branches, and small splits of wood anywhere from 1/4″ to 1″ in thickness. Kindling is the most important (and often overlooked) ingredient in building a good fire. Finally, your fuel should be well-seasoned hardwood. If you have to use softwoods just be sure that they are well-seasoned. Loose bark and cracks in the ends are signs of seasoned wood.
Tip 3: Make sure you build your fire right. Step one is to arrange two small to medium sized pieces of firewood on the grate, and place some crumpled up newspaper for tinder between the logs. Next, cover the tinder with several pieces of kindling. Remember how I told you that kindling is the most important ingredient in building a fire? Make sure that you are generous with your kindling. The last step is to place two pieces of firewood on top of the kindling and two more at right angles to these two. Leave some space between the logs for air circulation.
Tip 4: Warm up the flue. Hold a piece of burning rolled-up newspaper in the opened fireplace damper region for 10-15 seconds. This helps the flue establish a good draft and keep smoke out of the room. Then light the tinder. Within a few minutes you should have a nice, hot, roaring fire!