A fireplace is a wonderful addition to your home. It provides heat and ambiance. If you're thinking of installing a wood fireplace in your house, then you'll want to understand how to use it and care for it so it doesn't pose a fire hazard. Having your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned regularly will reduce your risk of problems so you can enjoy many winter nights curled up in front of a relaxing fire. Here are some things to know about preventing a chimney fire.
What Causes A Chimney Fire?
When you burn wood in your fireplace, the byproducts of combustion are pulled up the chimney. The temperature difference between the bottom and top of the chimney causes condensation to occur and this helps creosote form on the sides of the chimney. Creosote is a tar-like substance that builds up on the liner walls. When creosote gets too thick, it becomes a fire hazard. It's natural for creosote to form, but it can form much quicker if you burn wood that hasn't seasoned.
There are different forms of creosote too. If you burn seasoned wood in a fireplace that has good airflow, then the liner is covered in mostly soot. Harder, flakier creosote can form if the fire doesn't have as much air, as might happen if your fireplace has glass doors. The most dangerous form of creosote is the thick, tarry kind. This forms when you don't burn the proper type of wood or if there is a problem with the chimney. You can scrape off a portion of the creosote inside the chimney to see its condition and how thick the layer is.
Preventing A Chimney Fire
The primary way to prevent a chimney fire is to have the chimney cleaned every fall before you start using the fireplace after it has been idle. A chimney sweep removes all the built-up creosote so it won't pose a fire hazard. Your chimney is also inspected for signs of damage to make sure it is safe to use. It's possible you've had a fire in the chimney and didn't know it. Sometimes a chimney fire is loud and produces flames or smoke. Other times, the fire can't get enough oxygen to build a roaring fire.
Instead, it eventually goes out, but it can do damage for the short time it burns. If there's been a fire, there might be signs of burn marks or creosote on the roof or outside of the chimney. The chimney might be cracked or some liner tiles might be missing. It's dangerous to build a fire in a damaged chimney, so an annual inspection and repairs is essential.
To learn more, contact a company like A & A Chimney Sweep.