This Article has been approved by our on staff NFI Certified Specialists & Master Hearth Professionals
While you are sitting in front of your fireplace or wood stove, feeling warm and cozy from the fire, you are enjoying a ritual of comfort and enjoyment that has been around for centuries. While you're enjoying your fire the last thing on your mind is probably thinking about the condition of your chimney or fireplace flue. However great the enjoyment of your fireplace or wood stove can be very short lived if you are not giving proper thought to maintaining your chimney before you light a fire to warm your home!
According to a study by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), in 2011 alone there were 53,600 home fires that involved home heating equipment. The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean creosote from solid fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. These fires caused: 400 Deaths, 1540 Injuries, and $893 Million dollars in property damage. Those are shocking numbers considering the fact that with the use of preventative products and regular chimney cleaning, chimney fires are preventable!
Creosote: The Leading Cause to Chimney Fires
Wood Stoves and fireplaces are specially designed to allow you to safely heat your home with wood fueled fires because the chimney allows the by products of combustion to be safely expelled out of your home. These by-products of combustion include smoke, water vapor, gasses, and unburned wood particles. As these combustion gasses flow up the chimney condensation occurs due to the cooler temperature in your chimney leaving behind a residue know as creosote on the inner walls of your chimney. Creosote is blackish brown in color and can have many forms ranging from crusty and flaky to sticky and drippy. Most chimneys will have a variety of forms of creosote build up but regardless of the form, creosote is highly flammable.
The following Chimney Conditions Encourage the Build Up Of Creosote:
Restricted Air Supply
A lack of sufficient air flow can cause the smoke to spend more time in the chimney allowing more time for creosote to build up.
The extra energy used to burn off the excess moisture causes the smoke to be cooler, than if seasoned wood was used.
Cooler Than Normal Chimney Temperatures
The cooler the chimney the greater the chances of condensation of combustion gasses.
Each of the above factors in creosote build up can be controlled but are common occurrences for those who burn wood on a regular bases. When you heat your home with wood or even just use your fireplace once in a while, creosote build up is inevitable. Creosote is best controlled by using creosote control products on a regular basis during the burning season & regularly cleaning your chimney.
Creosote Removers: Our Top Recommend Products
|Anti-Creo-Soot Liquid Creosote remover - Spray interior surfaces of fire-chamber & on wood, under low fire (for safety) or before lighting fire, also flue outlet and damper area. Start early in the heating season to 'condition' stoves, furnaces and fireplaces. Use liberally near end of heating season, before shutting down stove, furnace, insert, or fireplace. This reduces off-season odors, corrosion & obstruction. Learn More|
|Rutland Toss-In Creosote Remover - This toss-in creosote remover is pre-measured for convenience. Toss the entire tube onto a brisk fire. Use two containers weekly for the first month or treatment, then one per week for the rest of the heating season. Learn more|
|Rutland Kwik-Shot Soot Stopper - This is for free-burning stoves and fireplaces (for airtight stoves or fireplace inserts use 5RU-97S). This easy to use toss-in stick controls soot and creosote build-up conveniently. Just place a Kwik-Shot Soot Stopper stick on your fire, no measuring or mess. Makes colorful flames too! Learn More|
Chimney Fires: Not Always so Obvious
If the unfortunate happens and your home is subject to a chimney fire most often you will know it. Chimney fires can be explosive and thick dense smoke are often noticed by neighbors or those passing by. However, there is also another type of chimney fire that can occur without being so obvious, a slow burning chimney fire.
Fast-Burning Chimney Fires:
- Noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or people passing by
- Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney
- Low rumbling sound similar to a freight train or a low flying airplane
Slow-Burning Chimney Fires:
- Fires doesn't get enough air or have fuel to be dramatic or visible
- Temperatures reached are very high
- Can cause as much damage to the chimney and surrounding structures as a Fast-burning chimney fire
ChimFex: Make the best of a bad situation
If you ever are in the mist of a chimney fire we, and firefighters nation wide, recommend calling 911 IMMEDIATELY and then using Chimfex fire suppressant. This fire suppressant is indispensable as the first line of defense for controlling fires that occur from creosote build-up in chimneys. Independent test results show it suppresses a chimney fire in an average of 22 SECONDS! Chimfex is a safe, fast, and easy-to-use tool to combat a chimney fire.
Preventative maintenance is key...
Clean chimneys are less likely catch fire. It is recommended that you have a Certified Chimney Sweep inspect your chimney system annually and repair it whenever needed. Regular cleanings both before the burning season and after the burning season are also recommended. You can have your chimney cleaned professionally but for all the DIY homeowners out there we have all your chimney cleaning supplies right here at NorthlineExpress.com