Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage buildings, destroy homes and injure or kill people. Chimney fires can burn explosively, noisy and dramatic enough to be spotted by neighbours or passers-by. Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney. The good news is, with proper chimney system care, chimney fires are totally preventable.
Tips for Safe Heating
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Note: For all new installations, a Building Permit is required.
- Inspect and clean your chimney regularly. If in doubt, consult a Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) certified chimney sweep.
- Check stovepipes and connections.
- Check walls for excessive heat.
- Install a rain cap.
- Watch for smoke coming into the room.
- Protect floors and walls from heat and sparks. Keep combustibles safely away from your appliance. Always use a properly fitting screen for your fireplace.
- Regularly check for signs of problems.
Signs of a Chimney Fire
Chimney fires can occur without anyone being aware of them and damage from such fires can endanger a home and its occupants, how do you tell if you've experienced a chimney fire?
Here are the signs a professional chimney sweep looks for:
- 'Puffy' creosote, with rainbow coloured streaks that has expanded beyond creosote's normal form
- Warped metal of the damper, metal smoke chamber, connector pipe or factory-built metal chimney
- Cracked or collapsed flue tiles, or tiles with large chunks missing
- Discoloured and distorted rain cap
- Creosote flakes and pieces found on the roof or ground
- Roofing material damaged from hot creosote
- Cracks in exterior masonry
- Evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners
If you think a chimney fire has occurred, call a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep for a professional evaluation. If your suspicions are confirmed, a certified sweep will be able to make recommendations about how to bring the system back into compliance with safety standards.