Did you know that chimney fires are the one of the leading causes of residential house fires every year? In fact according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) there are usually over 20,000 residential house fires caused by chimneys annually.However, this shouldn’t deter you from enjoying your fireplace or stove. In fact, chimney fires are totally preventable with proper cleaning and maintenance. The Chimney Guy wants to help you understand the leading causes of chimney fires, and how they can be prevented.

Dirty Chimneys

One of the most common, and most preventable, causes of chimney fires is a dirty chimney. When you burn fuel, sometimes combustion of the fuel isn’t complete which allows smoke and gas to be released. These gases rise and condense on the inside of your chimney called creosote. Over time, it accumulates into a thick black tar-like substance. If creosote gets hot enough, it can combust and start burning. Once creosote starts on fire, it is very difficult to put out.

There is no way to prevent the formation of creosote. Every type of fuel, even gas, creates some creosote. There are, however, a couple of ways to prevent creosote buildup from reaching dangerous levels. The easiest way is to be sure that your chimney is inspected and cleaned by a CSIA-certified chimney technician annually. A CSIA-certified technician will be able to determine where creosote buildup has occurred and clean it up for you. You can also make sure your burning proper fuel. Wood that hasn’t had a chance to season doesn’t burn as well and creates a lot more creosote.


Another cause of chimney fires is debris catching fire inside of your chimney. Leaves and branches easily fall and get trapped through the top of your chimney. Animals also like to build nests in open chimneys.

The best way to prevent debris in your chimney is by making sure you have a chimney cap installed on top of your chimney. A chimney cap will block any debris and animals from entering the top of your chimney.

Faulty Liner

Your chimney liner is an essential part of your chimney system. It acts as a barrier between your flue and your masonry and home’s framework. Over time, cracks and holes can form in your liner, exposing your home’s framework to higher temperatures than it can handle. This can cause your home to catch on fire.

Again, an annual chimney inspection by a CSIA-certified chimney technician will catch this problem before it becomes too bad. A chimney technician will probably either patch your liner and in some cases suggest a total chimney relining.

As you can see, getting an annual chimney inspection not only can make sure your chimney is in proper working condition, but also make your home safer. Remember, only CSIA-certified chimney technicians, like the ones at The Chimney Guy, are qualified to complete an inspection correctly. If you are ready for your annual inspection, please call The Chimney Guy today at 920-830-1920 or by scheduling an appointment online.