IT LIKE TO HAVE A CHIMNEY FIRE?
no fun. If it doesn't burn the house down, it will probably
scare you half to death. Here's how it happens.
with one dirty chimney - let's say a fireplace not cleaned
for a couple of years. The soot lining the chimney flue
is saturated with flammable stuff called creosote. It doesn't
take much to ignite creosote - a newspaper fire sending
flames up to the damper is enough.
kindled, creosote burns with joyous abandon. In a matter
of seconds the fire spreads up through the flue creating
a draft that only helps things along. At this point your
average chimney fire begins to roar and howl, sending the
occupants of the house running for cover. If you run you'll
be treated to a real fireworks show. As the creosote fire
builds and intensifies the heat melts the mortar between
the brick. The red-hot mortar actually drips into the flue,
only to be caught up in the tremendous up-draft, and these
little fire balls shoot out the chimney and onto the roof.
If you're lucky, the chimney will fall apart, destroying
one end of the building - ir you're not, this miniature
volcano can bring the whole house down.
if you stand your ground, a chimney fire can be controlled.
Throw rock salt on the floor of the fireplace, cover the
opening with a wet blanket, call the fire department, and
hope for the best. But it should be pointed out that having
your chimney cleaned is a lot easier on the nerves than
the rock salt and wet blanket method.
your chimney clean is the key step in preventing
dangerous chimney fires. If you can't remember the last
time your chimney was cleaned or if you burn wood frequently
you might not know whether your chimney is clean or not.
The following tell-tale signs are indicative of a chimney
that is in need of immediate cleaning:
Burned wood odors coming from the fireplace when
it's not being used.
Poor burning fires or fires that pour smoke back into the
A black damper. Since it is positioned directly
above the firebox, the damper is typically the easiest thing
to see and reach. And it gets caked with creosote. Look
or reach inside, and see what you can find. If you see black
gunk or you can pull out chunks of the stuff, there's a
dangerous amount of creosote built up inside.
How often you need to clean your chimney depends a great
deal on how much you use it, the types of fires you build,
and the kind of wood you use. As a rule of thumb though,
it's a good idea to have chimneys cleaned and inspected
at least once a year - usually before cold weather sets
in. In fact, the Insurance Bureau of Canada mandates that
chimneys be cleaned and inspected annually.