The fireplace can be a source of great comfort and pleasure.
With proper care and maintenance, most home owners will never
learn first hand, just how dangerous a fireplace can be.
When wood is burned in the fireplace, an unavoidable
consequence is the accumulation of soot or creosote in the
chimney. If the fire in the fireplace becomes too hot, the
combustion temperature of the soot is reached, and the chimney’s
smoke chamber and flue channel will burst into flame.
soot and creosote continues to accumulate in the chimney,
more fuel is available to feed a sustained fire with intense
heat. During a chimney fire, the internal flue temperatures can
exceed 2000°F. As the temperature rises, metal chimneys, can
bend, warp or even melt in the intense heat. With a masonry
lined chimney, the intense heat can cause cracking and
degradation of the masonry flue liner. Either way, surrounding
flammable structures, like wood joists and siding may be at
risk. This is why chimney fires can lead to serious house
It’s easy to avoid problems like this by following a few simple
rules and guidelines.
Here’s a list of tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable
Use only dry firewood. Wood should be cut & split at least
one year before use. Wood grays as it seasons. If it looks
like fresh light colored wood, it may not be seasoned
enough. Most firewood sellers claim their wood is seasoned.
Use your own good judgment.
Provide an adequate source of fresh air when lighting and
burning your fire.
Maintain a generous layer of ashes on the floor of the
fireplace. It helps the fire burn better and insulates the
fire bricks from heat damage.
Wait several days before removing ashes from the fireplace.
Only use a metal bucket to hold the ashes and do not store
the ashes near combustible materials.
Use a metal “fireback” to protect the rear firewall from
damage due to heat.
Remember to open the damper BEFORE lighting the fire.
Do not use too much kindling (newspapers, twigs etc.)
Commercially available fire starters are safe and reliable.
Fire screens are absolutely necessary. Sparks can jump four
to five feet from a fire.
Keep kindling, firewood and other combustibles well away
from the fireplace.
Do not add too much wood to the fire. An overheated
fireplace will wear out prematurely and greatly increase
your risk of a chimney fire.
Sweep the chimney often. The frequency of sweeping is
determined by the quantity of the wood burned. If you have
a metal, “factory built” fireplace, sweep it more often.
Remember - soot is flammable. A heavy build- up of
soot will fuel a chimney fire longer and hotter, and cause
Chimney Cricket Sweeps Inc. 301-774-6060