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Chimney Services Blog

How to Tell if You’ve Had a Chimney Fire

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If your home has a fireplace or a heating stove, a chimney fire can be a real danger to your safety. A chimney fire happens when so much creosote builds up inside the chimney that it ignites and causes the entire flue to burn from the inside. While stove and chimney fireboxes are designed to handle open flames and direct heat, the chimneys are not. Whether you have a brick or a metal chimney, they both can suffer significant damage as a result of a chimney fire. The biggest risk, however, is when the mortar or metal chimney connections get damaged enough to let the flames through to the combustible parts of your house. If this happens, your roof may catch on fire—call 911 right away. This is why it’s important to have your chimney regularly swept by your local Baltimore chimney cleaning professional. If you haven’t had it swept in a long time, the chimney sweep will be able to tell you if you dodged a scary bullet when a chimney fire happened unnoticed.

How can a chimney fire go unnoticed?

When enough creosote builds up, a chimney fire can be heard and often seen. There will be a loud cracking noise, a thick column of dense smoke and an intense burning smell. Sometimes, you can even see flames coming out of the chimney and hear the melted creosote “raining” down the flue. However, not all creosote fires are like that. When the chimney fire doesn’t get enough air due to a semi-closed damper or there isn’t enough creosote to make a scene, the fire burns slowly and silently. These slow-burning chimney fires are just as dangerous, and although the flames are not as big, the fire still reaches extremely hot temperatures inside the chimney—so hot, in fact, that it can melt mortar. Here are a few signs of a chimney fire that either you or your chimney sweep would notice during a Maryland chimney inspection:

  • flakes of creosote on the roof or on the ground
  • puffed-up creosote inside the chimney
  • warped or otherwise damaged metal objects in close proximity to the chimney, including the damper, TV antennas, rain caps, etc.
  • damaged or collapsed flue tiles
  • heat-damaged roofing around the chimney
  • cracks in the exterior of the chimney

A combination of these signs could indicate that you indeed have a chimney fire that went unnoticed. Some of the damaged chimney components might have to be replaced in order to ensure safe use of your stove or fireplace in the future. Fortunately, the chimney fire didn’t cause a house fire, but not every chimney fire ends this well. To protect your home and your family, schedule your annual chimney sweep before the coldest time of the year when you are likely to use your fireplace often. Call Town and Country Chimney Service today at 410-995-6700 or contact us online for a free estimate!

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