How Safe Is Your Fireplace? Find Out Today
Your fireplace transforms your living room into an excellent, cozy place to relax after a long day. However, simply kicking your feet up in front of the fire, day after day (without completing key care tasks and inspections) can result in disaster.
Creosote buildup, a byproduct of wood combustion consisting of tar and other flammable substances, can cause fires to start in your chimney and spread across your home. To prevent this, you need to check for common problems and have your fireplace regularly serviced by a professional.
Otherwise, you may end up needing help from experts skilled in fire restoration to clean up the resulting disaster.
Signs Your Fireplace Needs Attention
Over time, creosote builds up on the inside walls of your woodstove, fireplace, and chimney. This sticky substance contains highly flammable compounds that can catch fire instantly. This layer develops as condensation builds on the inner chimney surfaces – and ash, unburnt fuel, and chemical byproducts stick to it.
With a quick look inside your fireplace and up the chimney, you can see the telltale brown and black buildup on the inner surfaces. Both the look and the smell of your fireplace can signify the need for creosote removal. And don’t fall under the impression that these risks only affect wood-burning fireplaces. Gas fireplaces produce creosote, as well, and therefore carry the same risks as their wood-burning counterparts.
Whether you use natural gas or propane fuel, these fireplace designs produce even more condensation than wood-burning ones do. The increased water vapor greatly accelerates creosote buildup. Gas fires also tend to allow incomplete combustion that sends unburnt fuel up the chimney where it sticks to condensation on the inner walls. This creates an extremely flammable environment that could easily catch fire.
Birds and animals can also increase your risk of fire by bringing debris into your chimney. Debris, critters setting up potential nests, and even nearby tree branches all put you at a higher risk for a fire.
Regular Maintenance Requirements For Fireplaces
The main risk factors of chimney fires are highly preventable. You just need to commit to a regular maintenance schedule to mitigate your risks. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that you inspect your fireplace and chimney at least once per year. During this check, you should verify that its structure remains sound and free of creosote buildup.
Some Important Steps to Include in Your Check:
- Remember to look for the presence of wildlife and accompanying nests inside the chimney and any tree branches close to the opening
- Verify that nothing is blocking your chimney top or any ventilation pipes to prevent fires
- If you find ? inch or more of creosote, have your chimney swept
- If the creosote looks glazed, the cleaning process needs to begin ASAP, as this is a dangerous state for the buildup to be in
As creosote can damage your masonry with its acidic substances, setting up a regular care routine is really a win-win. When having your chimney cleaned, hiring a professional to physically sweep the inner surface is your best bet. You can help keep buildup to a minimum between service dates by burning special logs and other products designed to remove creosote.
Risks Of Continuing To Use An Unsafe Fireplace
Without the removal of creosote buildup, the tiniest spark could set the whole chimney on fire.
These fires are virtually impossible for homeowners to put out themselves. While waiting for emergency services, chimney fires have the potential to rage out of control and spread into the living space. If the house is not lost, crews skilled in fire restoration will need to come to repair the damage.
Efforts to put out the fire can take a serious toll on your home. The water used to squelch the flames can result in the need for flood damage cleanup, as well. Leaving the water to dry on its own can result in mold growth that further compromises the condition of your living space. At that point, you would need to get water mitigation and mold remediation services from disaster and fire cleanup companies to fully repair the damage.
You can greatly reduce your risks of chimney fires with regular inspections and maintenance services. When you put safety above all else, you also help preserve your comfort and convenience for the long-term.
How Fire Cleanup Companies Can Help If An Incident Occurs
Even with your best efforts at maintaining a strict upkeep schedule, the risk of fire is always there while using your gas or wood-burning fireplace. If a fire ever does start in your chimney, evacuate your home and immediately call 911 to request aid from the fire department.
If restoration is possible, you can receive helpful guidance and support from a local fire cleanup company of your choosing. They will use the leading fire damage restoration techniques to restore the condition of your home.
In addition to handling fire and smoke cleanup, these companies also take care of the damage caused by the crew tasked with putting the fire out, including mold remediation. While working to restore your home to pre-fire condition, they will even deep clean your furniture upholstery to remove water, soot deposits and the strong odor of smoke.
You can receive 24/7 emergency service from your trusted fire and water damage restoration company by calling 972 986 7677. Our highly trained restoration experts can clean up disasters of any size, so reach out anytime you need help.