Chimneys are designed to protect you and your home. While often associated with fireplaces, a chimney is necessary for several appliances. Generally, anything that burns fuel like oil, gas, wood, or coal requires a chimney. This will help isolate and vent dangerous gases or smoke out of your home.
However, there are times when a chimney may not always work as it should. There will be some instances when it can cause problems and even lead to a fire. Thus, when you notice any of these chimney fire signs, you must call for help immediately. Since this can cause damages to your property, injuries, or worse, death.
5 Chimney Fire Signs to Look Out For
Chimney fires are different for every home. However, most homeowners have reported similar events or noises that can help you identify when a chimney fire is happening. Some of these common indicators include the following:
1. Very loud popping or cracking noises. Don’t know what that sounds like? Just imagine the sound from a big bonfire. For some instances, the noises are so loud that they may sound like a plane or a train.
2. Strong burning smell. One of the most obvious chimney fire signs that tells you something’s not right.
3. An uncommon dense and thick smoke that’s coming out of the chimney top or into the fireplace.
4. Flames shooting or pieces of creosote on fire coming from the top of the chimney.
5. Heavy smoke, flames, or light coming out of the cracks in your chimney pipe’s sections.
If you notice any of these chimney fire signs then you might be in danger. Thus, make sure to get out of your home immediately and call 911.
Now, the problem is that the majority of chimney fires go unnoticed. Usually, they are only detected during a chimney inspection later on – which could be a problem since your chimney’s structure might already be damaged. And when they are damaged, they will not work as effectively. Again, this puts your home and your family in danger. So how will you know if your chimney had already caught fire?
9 Chimney Fire Signs That It Happened Already
Not all chimney fires can produce such obvious signs. Sometimes, slow-burning fires can happen without you even noticing. To know if your chimney had already caught fire, here are the 9 signs you should look out for:
1. Warped metal structures. These are indications that there was an intense heat present.
2. Flakes or pieces of creosote on the ground, chimney, or roof. Sometimes, you may even find them in your fireplace.
3. Creosote does not look normal. Instead of a black, flat, and often shiny substance, you find ashy, gray, honeycombed, or fluffy creosote.
4. The structures on your roof, which are near the chimney, are showing signs of heat damages. This could include your vents, shingles, or TV antennas.
5. There’s smoke coming out of the side of the chimney. This could mean there are cracks inside the flue, possibly due to intense heat.
6. There are cracks or damages to your flue tiles. Or chunks of your flue tiles are missing.
7. There are visible cracks in your chimney’s exterior masonry, possibly caused by intense heat coming from inside.
8. Your roofing material is damaged due to hot creosote.
9. Distorted or discolored rain cap.
If you see any of these signs, you should call chimney specialists in your area. They will professionally inspect your structure and determine the extent of the damage. They will also suggest what repairs are needed to make sure your system complies with the safety standard.
How to Prevent a Chimney Fire
The best way to prevent a fire is to keep your chimney well-maintained. See, clean chimneys don’t catch fires. This is because they don’t have soot or creosote layers inside that causes ignition. Also, if a chimney is well-maintained, there will be no cracks or damages where fire and heat can escape the flue.
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Keeping it clean also applies to your fireplace. Don’t start a fire on top of the ash or coals from a previous fire. This can cause an even hotter fire to burn, which can lead to a fire in your chimney. Furthermore, never burn garbage in your fireplace. This can lead to a buildup of more dangerous combustible materials in your chimney. Besides, when garbage is burnt, the chemicals it contains are dangerous to inhale.
Another way to avoid the chimney fire signs we’ve listed here is to reduce creosote buildup. You can do this by burning only untreated and properly seasoned wood. You should also burn fires that are within the appropriate size of your fireplace and make sure that your chimney has enough draft while burning.
Lastly, consider installing a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace.
- 2 units in 1: unit alerts you to smoke & carbon monoxide by sounding a loud, 85-decibel alarm & sounding voice alerts
- Ionization sensor technology senses invisible fire particles, while a electrochemical sensor detects CO gas
- Voice Alarm & an 85-decibel alarm announces a hazard when detected: “Fire!” = smoke or fire or “Warning Carbon Monoxide” = CO gas, or "Replace Battery" when the battery needs to be replaced
- Operates on 2-AA alkaline batteries, providing reliable detection during a power failure