Does a CHIMNEY FIRE clean out the chimney?
When wood is burned, not all the smoke escapes from the chimney. Some will cool down and become solid, producing creosote. Sweeping the chimney removes this flammable creosote residue. Further, creosote is corrosive to the flue tiles in the chimney and can cause unpleasant odors in your home. Ideally, the chimney should be swept in the spring time just after the winter burn season is over. The photos at right show a chimney the day after a chimney fire occurred (top photo) and after sweeping. This chimney was damaged in the fire and had to be relined. These pictures also demonstrate why a chimney often needs to be swept in order to perform an inspection, as the creosote in this chimney prevented our seeing the vertical cracks in the clay tile liners.
A truly scary aspect of chimney fires is that they often occur without the homeowner's knowledge. Chimney fires tend to happen most often within a short time of adding wood to a burning fire or upon lighting a new fire. Often people heating with wood are adding fuel to the fire before going to bed or leaving for work and are unaware that the chimney has caught fire.
All chimneys need to be inspected yearly and cleaned when needed. Oil soot is less flammable than wood residues but can cause blockages that allow carbon monoxide and other fumes to back up into the living space of your home. Gas appliances can also cause soot but are more prone to cause damage due to moisture condensation that can cause rapid chimney deterioration. Improperly sized gas flues are a leading cause of severe damages to chimneys and walls which also can allow deadly fumes to enter your home. Leaves, birds, animals and other intruders can also cause blockages that can inhibit proper draft.
As chimney sweep professionals, we also check other components of your home's heating system. We look for visible damage, structural design problems, signs of deterioration and check proper clearances for the appliance and venting system. We advise you on fire safety, proper maintenance and habit of use to help make sure your chimney serves its function to keep your home warm and safe. When repairs, renovation or upgrades are needed, we're prepared to provide most any type of chimney related services you could need.
*This article used with permission from THE FIREPLACE CHANNEL - Copyright 2006