During the fall and winter, we rely on our fireplaces to keep our families warm and to add comfort to our homes. Unfortunately, this high use time is also the most common time for chimney fires to occur. Chimney fires can wreak havoc on your chimney, damage your fireplace system, and can quickly spread to the rest of your home if not contained. Thankfully, there are several ways that homeowners can reduce their risk of accidental chimney fire.
What Happens During a Chimney Fire
Because creosote is so flammable, it will quickly spread throughout the flue. The fire creates a strong draft with a sound often equated to a freight train; loud cracking or popping from the mortar or cement may also be heard. Outside, flames shoot out from the chimney.
While a chimney fire is extremely serious, it is important to stay calm and act quickly. Begin by calling the fire department. Next, attempt to extinguish the fire in the fireplace either with a fire extinguisher or by throwing salt on the flames; this will not put out the fire in the chimney but can help control the high temperatures and lessen the strong drafts. After the chimney fire, it is important to call a certified chimney sweep to evaluate the condition of the chimney before attempting to use the fireplace again.
Preventing Chimney Fire
The best way to prevent future chimney fires is through regular annual chimney sweeping and inspections. Annual chimney sweepings protect your flue against excessive creosote buildup; accidental ignition of this flammable substance is the leading cause of chimney fire.
Because creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion, it is impossible to prevent it from forming entirely. However, there are several ways that homeowners can prevent excessive creosote buildup.
– Only use seasoned firewood. Seasoned firewood is wood that has been chopped, cut into logs, stacked, and allowed to dry in the elements. This seasoning process removes the majority of the moisture from the wood; wood with high moisture content such as green or freshly cut wood will produce more creosote than seasoned wood.
– Do not burn at low temperatures. Low burning fires smolder for long periods of time, and their low temperaturesr create more creosote. Letting the fires burn naturally hot and allowing them to quickly extinguish can minimize creosote creation.
A chimney fire can be a scary experience; however, it should not stop you from using your fireplace again. If you think you have had a chimney fire, contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps today. Our highly trained staff can evaluate the damage caused by a chimney fire and make recommendations to repair any damage the fire may have caused.
Getting the most out of your fireplace takes more than just throwing wood and some kindling into the firebox. Starting a fire the wrong way can lead to sluggish fires that do not burn well, burn out quickly, or need to be stoked or have wood added constantly. By taking the time to correctly build a fire, you can spend less time stoking and more time enjoying it with family and friends. The following easy-to-follow tips can help you build a better fire the next time you use your fireplace!
Start a top down fire
How you stack your logs has a big impact on the quality of your fire. Top down fires minimize the need for stoking by making sure the wood gets enough oxygen as it burns. Build a top down fire by putting the largest logs on the bottom of the grate, ends facing the front and back of the firebox. Continue pyramid stacking progressively smaller and smaller logs, intertwining the stack with kindling. Ignite the top log and kindling; as the wood burns down it will naturally ignite the logs underneath it, reducing the need to add to or stoke the fire.
Warm your flue
If the weather outside is significantly colder than the temperature inside your home, warming the flue before starting a fire can reduce smoke blow-back and drafting problems. Open the damper before creating a kindling bundle of newspaper; ignite the newspaper and hold it under the open damper for several minutes – or until it burns up – to gradually warm the air temperature in the flue.
Use the right firewood
The type of firewood you use can have a major impact on the quality of your fire. For best results, seasoned hard woods should be used. Seasoned wood is made when logs are cut, stacked, and allowed to naturally dry by exposure to the elements; this reduces the moisture content in the wood and helps fires burn hotter, longer, produce less smoke, and create less creosote.
If you want to create a more aromatic fire, seasoned soft woods like cherry, pine, or fir can be used. However, soft woods often burn at a lower heat and create more smoke, making them better tailored to outdoor fire pits than indoor fireplaces. Using citrus peels as a natural kindling is an easy alternative that can add additional fragrance to your fires.
Have your chimney swept
Chimneys should be swept and inspected annually. Doing this ensures that the fireplace and flue are clean, undamaged, and safe to use. Chimney inspections can also help spot areas of damage or deterioration in the chimney and flue that may not be easily recognized by homeowners. Certified chimney sweeps can also help diagnose and repair fireplace performance problems such as drafts, odors, or leaks.
Get the most out of your fireplace this winter by following our easy burning tips. For more information on starting a good fire or to schedule your next chimney sweeping, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!
We rely on the appliances in our home to work day in and day out. However, one appliance in your home may have a hidden fire hazard – your dryer.
Despite the fact that most of us use our dryers several times a week, very few homeowners clean their dryers beyond emptying the lint trap. Not having your dryer vents professionally cleaned, however, increases your risk of home fire. Regular dryer maintenance and cleaning is an important part of making your dryer – and your home – safer.
The danger of clogged dryer vents
Lint doesn’t just accumulate in your lint trap; it can also build up in your dryer vents. As most of us know this lint is extremely flammable; it is the buildup of this lint that can lead to dryer fires.
As lint and other debris builds up in the dryer vents it constricts air flow to the dryer. With less air, the dryer is forced to work harder to heat the air, producing hotter and hotter air as the dryer vents get progressively more clogged. If the dryer vents are not cleaned, the super heated air can ignite the lint in the vents and lead to a home fire.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that clogged dryer vents are the cause of more than 15,000 home fires each year. These dryer fires cause more than $200 million in damages to homes and properties – but can be largely prevented with regular dryer vent cleanings.
Why have your dryer vents professional cleaned
Having your dryer vents professionally cleaned can make your home safer by reducing the risk of dryer fire. During a cleaning, our dryer vent experts use a rotary system to ensure that all lint is removed from the venting system. Likewise, instead of blowing the lint onto your lawn – and making a bigger mess for you – our equipment collects and removes the lint. Lastly, our vent cleaning services includes an inspection of your dryer vents to make sure there are no holes, kinks, or other hazards in the venting system.
Signs your dryer vents may be clogged
While it is recommended to have your dryer vents cleaned about once per year, how often your dryer is used can impact how often they need to be maintained. However, your dryer may be offering you clues that it is time for a dryer vent cleaning! The following are six signs your dryer vents are beginning to get clogged and need to be cleaned.
- Regular loads of clothes are not dry after a full cycle
- Clothes or the dryer are too hot to touch after use
- The inside of the dryer has a damp, musty odor
- Loads begin taking progressively longer and longer to dry completely
- The laundry room or area around the dryer becomes significantly warmer after use
- More lint is found in the lint trap or can be seen around exterior vents
By having your dryer vents professionally cleaned, you can help protect your family by significantly reducing the risk of dryer fire in your home. To schedule your next dryer vent cleaning, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.