The Effects Chimney Fires Have on Your Chimney
A shocking number of homeowners in the Midwest have a fire-damaged chimney. According to a Midwest Chimney Safety Council poll, chimney sweeps discover an average of 1.5 fire-damaged fireplace ventilation systems every day! Chimney fires cause this damage. Chimney fires burn at scorching temperatures often for long periods causing extensive damage to the chimney system. If you have a fire-damaged chimney, your home is at risk!
Chimneys do more than vent smoke outside. They also prevent a chimney fire from spreading to your home and protect you from breathing in carbon monoxide that’s produced by your fireplace. If a fire has damaged your chimney system, it may not be able to do its job. Every time you use your fireplace, you may be running the risk of a second, lethal chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. The damage left behind by a chimney fire can also increase the risk of a chimney leak. Water damage from a chimney leak can leave you with hundreds of dollars in repairs.
How do chimney fires go undetected?
It may be hard to believe that a destructive fire can go undetected. Chimney fires are unique because of what they burn and where they burn. While some chimney fires are noisy, the majority are not. Chimney fires are often fueled by creosote—a highly flammable combustion byproduct that builds up in flues. Creosote usually burns quietly at high temperatures.
Chimneys are designed to contain these types of fires. Most chimneys are lined with material that is made to withstand extremely high temperatures and acidic combustion byproducts. That is why many chimney fires go unnoticed because the fire didn’t spread to another area and only left damage inside or around the chimney.
What kind of damage is left behind by a chimney fire?
While your chimney system prevents a chimney fire from spreading, it can be critically damaged. A chimney fire can cause a large amount of damage to your fireplace’s ventilation system and nearby materials, including:
- Melting or damaging roofing
- Damaging a dish or TV antenna
- Breaking or cracking clay flue tiles
- Warping metal chimney components such as a metal flue liner, smoke chamber connection pipe, damper, chimney cap, or chase cover
How can I find out if my chimney has fire damage?
The best way to determine the health of your chimney system is to have it professionally inspected. Certified chimney sweeps include a Level 1 inspection with every chimney cleaning. During this inspection, they will visually inspect every part of your chimney’s exterior that they can access. This means climbing into your attic and going onto your roof to get a close look at your chimney. If they spot fire damage indicators, they may recommend a Level 2 inspection, which will take a closer look inside your chimney through the use of special video camera equipment.
You may be able to spot some indicators on your own, such as:
- Broken or cracked pieces of clay tile in the fireplace
- A disfigured or discolored chimney cap or chase cover
- A warped TV antenna or dish
- Melted or damage roofing material around the chimney
If you spot any of these indicators, call a professional chimney sweep as soon as possible to set up an inspection!
Using a fireplace with a fire-damaged chimney is extremely risky. Homes with a fire-damaged chimney that’s hasn’t been repaired are at greater risk of a severe house fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t put yourself or your loved ones at risk! If your fireplace hasn’t been inspected this year, set up an appointment for a cleaning and Level 1 inspection!