FACT: an average of 22,000 chimney related fires happen in the United States annually.

…but all of them preventable.

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Watch this Chimney Flue Fire Simulation

Creosote is combustible and a cause of chimney fires. The creosote builds up on the walls inside a chimney flue and over time it becomes a fire hazard. This Flue Fire Damage video is a quick simulation of how fire leaves the chimney, soon after the creosote ignites.

Is My Chimney at Risk For a Flue Fire?

The short answer is YES! If you have a working chimney, then yes you are at risk for a chimney fire. If you haven’t had the chimney cleaned or inspected within the last year, then the risk of fire has gone up significantly.

We don’t want to scare you, but chimney sweeps have a duty to help prevent chimney fires so our local firefighters don’t have to risk their lives later. 

The image below shows a small chunk of creosote one of our chimney sweeps removed from a customer’s chimney. This is a clear sign that it’s past time for a chimney cleaning.

Creosote from inside a chimney
Flue Tile cracks cannot be seen without a proper inspection of the inside of the chimney, but when discovered these cracks in the clay are an obvious sign that a fire has already happened inside a chimney.

The images shown below are a good example of what we might find after a chimney fire has burned away all the flammable creosote and left damages in the terracotta clay flue tiles that could have disastrous consequences if a homeowner decided to burn another fire.

Close Up Crack Flue Tile Liner

Smoke from a fire set in a fireplace can leak through cracks like these in a chimney flue. This can be very dangerous and allow carbon monoxide into your home!

It’s one reason why an annual inspection of the fireplace and chimney is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. 

Do NOT Burn if…

Fire Hazard symbol

If you’re not currently in immediate danger of starting a chimney fire but you DO have reason to believe any of the following are true, then it is important to call a certified professional as soon as possible:

  1. You suspect you may have cracked chimney flue tiles
  2. You think you may have had a chimney fire at some point
  3. You have determined that creosote build-up is present on the inside walls of your chimney flue

If the above is true, then please use common sense. Do Not Burn.

If you’re in the Kansas City area, please call 913-642-6171 for assistance.

Outside our area?

Visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America website, navigate to the Homeowners Resource section and use the Find a Local Sweep search tool.  

Inspection system from 2004

This is FSC owner, Bob back in 2004 inspecting a fireplace & chimney. We’ve updated our camera equipment since then, but we sure like this retro picture!

At Full Service Chimney, we use a Closed-Circuit Video Camera during our Level 2 Inspections that allow us to see the inside of a chimney flue in its entirety, from top to bottom.

Good burning habits, in combination with annual chimney inspection and sweeping, are the best defense from chimney fires. – Bob Berry, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep

Next week in honor of Fire Prevention Week we’ll dig deeper into Creosote; we will describe what it is, how it builds up and contributes to chimney fires, as well as what to do about it.

For now, Stay Safe KC. Together, let’s prepare for a safe burning season!

Source: http://www.csia.org/statistics.html (Full report available as PDF)

Get more information on chimney fires directly from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)

Disclaimer: If you have a fire or reason to suspect carbon monoxide is entering your home get out and call 911. Information provided is intended for educational purposes and is not a substitute for contacting the appropriate professional.

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