Chimney Fires – Why Chimneys Catch Fire and Flue Inspections or Sweeping Is Necessary For Safety
Proper chimney and fireplace maintenance is an idea and task which is lost to many home owners. Despite many old-timers and other individuals making the claim that, “I’ve been burning wood and using the same chimney for over 20 years without any problems…” is all well and good, however, the home owner needs to realize that it is their own home which is at risk and no one else’s house.
There are several different construction types of chimney, flue and stove units found throughout the country. While cleaning most chimneys utilizes similar methods, chimney sweeping is not the only aspect of chimney maintenance required for a safe home. Traditional brick home construction did not always include a chimney liner years ago. Over time many building codes have been amended to improve construction methods and safety.
Regardless of the type of heating source used or whether or not the chimney has a liner installed, chimney inspections are absolutely necessary in addition to sweeping in order to prevent the risk of a chimney fire. As time passes and a home ages mortar surrounding bricks or stones will degrade due to the harsh interior conditions with which a chimney is subjected. It also stands to reason that should a home owner have a fire in a stove or fireplace, the temperature outside is quite cold.
With the mortar and the brick or stonework expanding and contracting every year due to seasonal temperature fluctuations and rain, it is no wonder that the mortar will begin to become brittle and crumble away. Because the temperature of the flue gases begin to cool as they rise, creosote will form on the walls of the chimney flue due to condensation. Crumbling mortar is a problem in itself, but is often exacerbated by the formation of creosote, which is very flammable, on the interior walls of the chimney flue. The purpose of regularly scheduled chimney inspections is to prevent an expensive and hazardous situation from happening.
Reconstructing existing chimneys is not a cheap investment. It is much more economical to install a chimney flue liner before the brickwork begins to deteriorate. Not only can chimney liners reduce the amount of creosote deposits thereby improving safety, but will also allow greater ease in cleaning when it becomes necessary.
Many neighbors may shrug off a chimney inspection or cleaning based upon the past success of the lack of a chimney fire, but it is a realistic and serious gamble a home owner will be taking by not hiring a professional chimney sweep company to inspect and clean the chimney. Chimney inspections and cleanings will often be less than set of automobile tires. Every home owner should proactively protect their largest investment, being the home.