Tips On Preventing Chimney Fires

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As part of your annual home pest inspection, it's a good idea to ask your pest control services contractor to carry out some routine fire protection system maintenance too.  If you have an open fire or log burner, this could include checking your chimney too, before the colder months arrive and you want to light your fire. 

Between maintenance visits, you can take steps to ensure that you and your family can enjoy a cosy winter fire safely, without the risk of your chimney catching light.  Here are some top tips on preventing chimney fires.

Causes of chimney fires

Unseasoned firewood

Green wood leaves deposits of extremely flammable creosote and sap on the chimney walls as it burns.  A stray spark can easily ignite the creosote, starting a fire.  Always use wood that has been properly seasoned and is completely dry, and avoid building your fire too high so that flames leap right up into the chimney.

If you have a log burner or stove, keep an eye on the height of the flames through the glass window on the front of the appliance, and adjust the vent to dampen the flames if necessary.

Infrequent cleaning

Cobwebs, dust, and twigs from birds' nests that have fallen into the chimney can catch fire, sparking a chimney blaze.

You can prevent problems like the above by having your chimney swept at least once a year at the end of summer, before you light your fire.  If you light your fire on a daily basis, you should have your chimney swept more frequently.

Consider having bird cowling placed over your chimney pots to prevent nesting material from being deposited in the chimney.

Incorrect size appliance for your chimney and poor maintenance

It's really important that you use the right size of appliance for your chimney.  If you choose a log burner or stove that's too big, it will never become hot enough to utilise all the fuel contained in the wood.  Unburned fuel may move up into the chimney as smoke, condensing in the flue as highly flammable creosote.

If the dampers on your appliance are not working properly, the fumes produced won't be discharged out of the room via the chimney, exposing your family to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.  You should therefore have your appliance properly serviced annually to ensure that it is working correctly.

In conclusion

Chimney fires are easily avoided by following the above tips.  Make sure that you have your chimney cleaned regularly and have any appliances and smoke alarms serviced too.