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Prevent Chimney Fires

Published: 11/4/2005

chimney smoking.gif

Don’t Let the Fire You Want...

...Turn Into One You Don’t

When leaves start falling and the air gets that wintry chill, there’s nothing like building a cozy fire in the fireplace or woodstove. But stop and think for a minute: when was the last time your chimney flue was cleaned? Has it been inspected this year? If not, you may find your cozy little fire erupts into a blazing inferno that could burn your house to the ground.

Chimney fires generally happen when creosote, a sticky black byproduct of wood smoke, accumulates on the inside walls of a chimney flue to the point where it easily ignites. The resulting fire is often violent and can quickly spread to your roof or the house structure adjacent to the chimney.

Only a Fool Keeps a Dirty Flue


Avoiding chimney fires is easy—it just takes regular inspection and cleaning to ensure that dangerous levels of creosote never build up in your flue. Have a professional inspect your chimney annually (contact an expert in the phone book under “Fireplaces” or “Chimney Builders and Repairers”). In addition to spotting a dirty flue, an annual inspection will detect any structural problems that require attention.

If you burn wood regularly, you should also do a quick visual check of your chimney flue periodically throughout the winter (if you burn daily, this could be as often as twice a month). The easiest way to check is to reach into the flue with a powerful flashlight and compact mirror from the cleanout door at the bottom of your chimney. If you see more than 1/16” of creosote on the sides of your flue, it’s time to clean. Don’t forget to clean any stove pipe too. There are several professional chimney sweeps in the area listed in the phone book under “Chimney Cleaning.”


Result of a recent chimney fire in West Seneca: They now have a full size window overlooking their neighbors yard. Luckily West Seneca firefighters were able to stop the spread of the fire and saved the rest of the residence.

 Chimney Fire at 97 Tim Tam Terrace.

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