Do you perform maintenance on your car? Of course, you do. Making sure that your tires are rotated and oil is changed periodically is crucial to keep your car running smoothly and operational for a long time. Without this maintenance, your car would quickly breakdown. The same holds true for your chimney system. If you’re not scheduling periodic maintenance on your chimney and fireplace, you could be shortening the life of your chimney and, more importantly, creating a safety hazard for you and everyone in your home. At The Chimney Guy, we can’t stress enough the importance of annual chimney inspections and sweepings. We want to show how scheduling a chimney inspection and sweeping once a year can end up saving you from being placed in a hazardous situation.
Chimney fires happen a lot more frequently than you probably think. In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states that, annually, there are more than 20,000 residential house fires that started inside chimneys. One of the most upsetting things about this statistic is that a majority of those house fires could have been prevented with a little periodic maintenance and upkeep. Research by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has shown that a majority of chimney fires are caused by chimneys that were not being swept often enough.
There are a few ways that a fire can start in your chimney. The first thing that you should understand is that it gets very hot in your chimney. Although there is no real fire in your chimney, the gases, smoke, and heat that come from your fireplace create a lot of heat. This is especially true if your chimney is even partially blocked and heat can’t quickly be expelled from your chimney. When this happens your chimney temperature can climb to dangerous levels. When things like leaves, branches, and other debris get caught in your chimney, they can easily get hot enough to combust and start on fire. However, this isn’t the most common culprit when it comes to chimney fires.
When you burn wood it releases heat. However, in addition to heat, burning wood will release byproducts in the form of smoke, soot, and other gases. The amount of byproduct released depends on the quality of the wood being burned and the temperature of the fire. Well seasoned wood that is burning at high temperatures generally produces less byproduct. Once this byproduct goes up the chimney, it starts to cool down and condensate on the inside of the chimney walls. Once condensation dries, it forms a sticky, tar-like substance called creosote.
There are a couple of issues that are created by creosote. First, it can build up to the point where it starts to block your chimney and cause issues with airflow. When your airflow is obstructed, it can cause your fire to burn cooler, which, in turn, speeds up creosote accumulation. If creosote eventually builds up enough to block your chimney, you won’t be able to create a fire without smoke billowing into your home.
Another, more hazardous, issue caused by creosote is chimney fires. Creosote is combustible at higher temperatures. If your chimney gets hot enough, it can ignite creosote and start a chimney fire. Creosote fires can be devastating, because they are extremely difficult to put out and can easily spread to the rest of your home, causing catastrophic damage. It doesn’t take a lot of creosote to start a chimney fire either. In fact, it can take as little as ⅛ inch of creosote build-up to be hazardous.
The most important thing you can do to protect your home from chimney fires is to have it inspected and swept once a year by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep. Only a CSIA certified sweep has gone through the rigorous training and testing to assure that your chimney will be inspected and swept correctly.
Annual inspections are important because it makes sure that any issues that might have arisen during the past year are addressed. It’s also an opportunity to make sure that your chimney is swept and ready for operation for the entire next year. At The Chimney Guy, we make sure that our chimney sweeps are certified by the CSIA. We believe that this, along with our 23 years of experience servicing chimneys and fireplaces, makes us the best chimney sweep in the Green Bay and Fox Valley area and our customers seem to agree!
Don’t let your chimney sweeping lapse another year; you could be putting your home at risk! Now is a great time to schedule a chimney inspection and sweeping! If you live in Oshkosh, Green Bay, Green Lake, and other surrounding areas give The Chimney Guy a call at or contact us online today. We look forward to helping you make sure your chimney is safe and operational for the next year to come.