|Escape from Fire||Practice Exit Drills||Carbon Monoxide||Chimney Fires|
|Fireplace Safety||Heating Safety||Winter Safety||Smoke Detectors|
|Fire Extinguishers||Child Set Fires||Vehicle Fires|
and Home Fire Safety:
From the CHIMNEY SAFETY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA
you snuggle in front of a cozy fire or bask in the warmth of your wood
stove, you are taking part in a ritual of comfort and enjoyment handed
down through the centuries. The last thing you are likely to be thinking
about is the condition of your chimney. However, if you don't give some
thought to it before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may
be very short-lived. Why? Dirty chimneys can cause chimneyfires, which
damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people.
CREOSOTE & CHIMNEY FIRES : WHAT YOU MUST KNOW
As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove, and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote. Creosote is black or brown in appearance. It can be crusty and flaky ... tar-like, drippy and sticky ... or shiny and hardened. Often, all forms will occur in one chimney system.
Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities - and catches fire inside the chimney flue- the result will be a chimney fire. Although any amount of creosote can burn, sweeps are concerned when creosote builds up in sufficient quantities to sustain a long, hot, destructive chimney fire.
Certain conditions encourage the buildup of creosote, restricted air supply, unseasoned wood and cooler-than-normal chimney temperatures are all factors that can accelerate the buildup of creosote on chimney flue walls.
Air supply: The air supply on fireplaces may be restricted by closed glass doors or by failure to open the damper wide enough to move heated smoke up the chimney rapidly (the longer the smoke's "residence time" in the flue, the more likely is it that creosote will form). A wood stove's air supply can be limited by closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon and too much, and by improperly using the stovepipe damper to restrict air movement.
Burning unseasoned firewood: Because so much energy is used initially just to drive off the water trapped in the cells of the logs - burning green wood keeps the resulting smoke cooler, as it moves through the system, than if dried, seasoned wood is used.
Cool flue temperatures: In the case of wood stoves, fully-packed loads of wood (that give large cool fires and eight or 10 hour burn times) contribute to creosote buildup. Condensation of the unburned by-products of combustion also occurs more rapidly in an exterior chimney, for example, than in a chimney that runs through the center of a house and exposes only the upper reaches of the flue to the elements.
CHIMNEY FIRES DAMAGE CHIMNEYS
factory-built, metal chimneys:
TO KEEP THE FIRE YOU WANT
Use seasoned woods only (dryness is more important than hard wood
versus soft wood considerations)
Your sweep may have other maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace or stove.
CSIA recommends that you call on certified chimney sweeps, since they are regularly tested on their understanding of the complexities of chimney and venting systems.
that You've Had a Chimney Fire
Here are the signs a professional chimney sweep looks for:
"puffy" creosote, with rainbow colored streaks, that has expanded beyond
creosote's normal form
If you think a chimney fire has occurred, call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep for a professional evaluation. If your suspicions are confirmed, a certified sweep will be able to make recommendations about how to bring the system back into compliance with safety standards. Depending on the situation, you might need a few flue tiles replaced, a relining system installed or an entire chimney rebuilt. Each situation is unique and will dictate its own solution.
What to Do if You Have a Chimney Fire
If you realize a chimney fire is occurring, follow these steps:
Get everyone out of the house, including yourself
If you can do so without risk to yourself, these additional steps may help save your home. Remember,however, that homes are replaceable, but lives are not:
Put a chimney fire extinguisher into the fireplace or wood stove
Once it's over, call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep to inspect for damage. Chimney fire damage and repair normally is covered by homeowner insurance policies.