If your chimney has a build-up of combustible creosote residue and the internal temperature of the flue (the space inside your chimney) is hot enough, the creosote may catch fire and it can travel up the chimney.
You can prevent a chimney fire by doing these three things.
Burning Only Seasoned Hardwoods
Seasoned wood has been “cured”—cut and dried for at least 6 to 12 months. Unseasoned, or “green,” wood has a high moisture content and doesn’t burn well. As a result it generates a large amount of creosote and soot.
It’s helpful to know that split wood dries more thoroughly and burns better than whole logs. Also, certain woods deliver more heat than others—opt for hardwoods like oak, ash and maple, which are denser than softwoods like cedar, poplar, and pine.
Remember to always keep the damper, which is the metal plate in the flue that controls the draft, open during a fire to maintain sufficient airflow for a cleaner burn.
Cleaning Your Chimney When Its Walls Develop Build-Up
How much residue is too much? Take a finger and wipe the inside of your chimney wall. If you remove one-eighth of an inch of build-up—approximately the thickness of two quarters—you should have your chimney cleaned. A professional cleaning typically includes a sweep of the outside of the chimney, as well as the firebox, the smoke shelf, the smoke chamber located above the firebox, and the flue and its liner.
Scheduling a Yearly Chimney Inspection
Many problems that cause chimney fires may not be visible to the naked eye. That’s why it’s important to have a certified chimney sweep inspect your fireplace, chimney, and venting system once yearly. This expert will be able to find any damage and repair it.
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