Monday, 09 October 2006 00:24

CDF Warning: Clean Your Chimneys

Chimney FiresSpeaking of smoke and fire, it’s that time of the year again when homeowners are warming up around the comfort of their fireplaces or wood stoves, many times with out a thought in their minds about the condition of their chimney. However, if you don't give some thought to it before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may be very short-lived as chimney fires can be deadly.

TipsChimney fires occur when deposits of carbon and dust accumulate in a chimney and are set alight by sparks or flames from an open fire. Most solid fuels create some kind of soot which without regular cleaning of chimneys builds up in the flue and eventually catches fire. Here are some tips for the upcoming season. First and foremost, The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that your chimney must be installed correctly or that in itself is a fire hazard. Also, once correct installation is confirmed make sure that your chimney is cleaned thoroughly before you burn in your fireplace or stove. Always begin by making a visual check of your own looking for animals, such as birds that may have created a nest in out chimney or pipe. A bird’s home is a fire hazard when built in your chimney. The National Safety Council recommends that chimneys be swept thoroughly at least twice a year, once perhaps at the beginning of the cold weather period, such as after the Summer /Autumn seasons, to clear the chimney of debris. They should also be swept mid-way through the Winter to ensure a fire does not occur. If you burn a lot of Pine wood your chimney will need to be cleaned more often, about every 3 mos. Pine wood has a lot of pitch that adheres to the walls of your chimney creating a buildup. If you burn cedar or Oak, the most common types of wood to use; your chimney should be cleaned twice a year. Cleaning a chimney depends on the comfort level of the individual. Many people do not feel comfortable climbing on the roof, so they hire a professional to do the job. However, if you are comfortable cleaning your own chimney it is fairly easy. There are many types of tools available, the most common and effective is a brush which helps clean out the debris.

TipsIt is suggest however with the variety of tools out there that your options not include a chain. Using a chain to clean your chimney could damage it by either breaking tiles or creating a hole in the structure, which could in turn start an attic fire. Remember to remove all leaves, pine needles and debris from your roof and rain gutters. Remember a one half inch nonflammable screen is required over all chimney or stove pipe openings. Keep all flammable materials a minimum of three feet away from wood stoves. If a chimney fire does occur never pour water down your chimney. This will cause your stove to flood and possibly damage your chimney. Instead pour about an 8oz glass of water on your fire without completely putting it out, creating steam, which will put the fire out in your chimney. This is the safest and easiest way of demolishing a chimney fire, however if the fire persists always call 911 for the help of professional firefighters. For more chimney safety tips or to find a certified chimney sweep check out the Chimney Safety Institutes website at


National Safety Council Cleaning a Chimney Remember to Remember to