Over 70,000 chimney fires occur annually. Most of these could have been prevented.
What causes a chimney fire?
A chimney fire is the result of burning of creosote which builds up inside the chimney on tiles and liners. Creosote is the soot or residue that builds up as a result of incomplete burning of fuel in the fireplace or wood stove or coal stove. Un-burned substances accumulate when they contact the cool tiles or liner of your chimney and condense into soot. Layers can build up and eventually may ignite. Using green wood instead of dry wood in the stove or fireplace may increase creosote. Using the stove or fireplace without enough air intake can also increase creosote deposits.
A chimney fire can also result from the burning of organic material which may have fallen into the chimney – things like birds nests or leaves can build up and be ignited when the temperature in the chimney heats up.
How can you prevent a chimney fire? Cleaning your flue regularly will prevent the buildup of creosote or organic material. Hire a chimney sweep at least once a year, more often if you use your stove or fireplace frequently. You can prvent organic material from falling into the chimney by using a wire guard over the chimney.