For centuries, fireplaces have provided home owners with a sense of luxury bringing warmth and ambiance to homes around the world. Whether the fireplace is used for pure decorative pleasure or as a primary heating source during those cold winter months, if they are not maintained or used properly, fireplace and chimney systems can be safety hazards, and can quickly lead to tragedy.
Practicing Chimney Safety is not only important to the overall integrity of the chimney structure over time, it is also important to the safety of your property and family. Unsafe chimney operation has often been the culprit of house and chimney fires and many cases has lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tell Tale Signs that You Don't Have a Safely Operating Chimney
Cracked Flue Tiles
Any evidence of cracked tiles is an indication that you've got a problem. Cracked tiles are caused by extreme variations in temperature, which usually arise from one of two possible sources: either a problem with the chimney cap or a previous chimney fire.
Bad or Damaged Mortar
Three different areas need to be looked at: the top of the house, the chimney, and the attic. You have a major fire hazard if your mortar joints are missing or deteriorated. If the smoke chamber has a missing mortar joint, the smoke may travel in between your walls, rather than exiting through the top of the chimney.
Creosote Build Up
When there is a chimney fire that involves heavy creosote build-up, temperatures may exceed two-thousand degrees Fahrenheit. These fires are almost impossible to put out.
Missing or Damaged Chimney Cap
If rain or snow makes its way into the flue, the liner is liable to undergo extreme temperature variations. A chimney with poor drafting will cool the flue gases too quickly. This causes a build-up of creosote. Additionally, acidic gases will erode the mortar and other parts of the chimney. Chimney caps also keep birds and other animals from entering your chimney flue.
See our selection of Chimney Caps.
Corrosion inside a chimney causes the masonry to crumble and crack. Even terra cotta lined chimneys are not immune to this problem as the terra cotta has masonry joints which can be corroded by the condensed gases.
Chimneys are exposed to the effects of wind, snow, ice, and rain from five surfaces. They are therefore subject to continuous expansion and contraction due to the chimney masonry being heated by hot gases from the fire, and the cold, wet outdoor temperatures. This repetitive expansion and contraction creates a lot of movement, and consequently deterioration.
Like all structures, chimneys must receive regular inspections and maintenance in order to maintain their integrity and to continue to safety and efficiently serve their purpose. Loss of property and loved ones can be avoided by taking preventative actions to ensure that the chimney is not harboring the tools to produce a potentially devastating fire. Learn more about the steps you can take to keep your chimney creosote free and prevent house fires with cleaning, maintenance, and installation advice from our expert customer service team.
Carbon monoxide is responsible for more deaths than any other single poison. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless so it can be harmful and even fatal before you know its present in your home. This toxic poison can be prevented by installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors. If you install only one detector, it is recommended that it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep. A multi-level home should have one on every level to provide extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning. Never install detectors right above or next to fuel burning appliances.