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Home & Garden | Safety | October 1, 2018

How to Avoid a Chimney Fire

Every time you light a fire in your wood stove, fireplace, or pellet stove, a small bit of creosote builds up. While some types of wood create more creosote, and water in your wood can add to the buildup, there are things you can do to avoid the dreaded flue or chimney fire.

What is a Flue Fire

When creosote, that gummy, corrosive and flammable substance found in chimneys across the country, ignites, the result is a chimney fire. Essentially, the inside of your pipes and chimney liner are set ablaze. A few of the telltale signs that you’re experiencing a flue fire are popping noises coming from your piping and sparks flying out your chimney.

A serious flue fire can send sparks out your chimney, catching your roof or nearby structures on fire. Plus, creosote build-up can block your chimney or piping, reducing the efficiency of your stove or allowing Carbon Monoxide to enter your home.

Coastal Tip: As little as 1/10th of an inch of creosote buildup can reduce your stove’s efficiency by 50 percent.

Preventing a Chimney Fire

First, you’ll want to get your stove or fireplace inspected each year by either a National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified professional or by a qualified chimney sweep. To prevent a flue fire in your home, try the following:

Use dry wood. The more moisture you have in your wood, the more likely you are to add creosote buildup to the pipping. Check out our article How Wood Moisture Affects Your Wood Stove or Fireplace for more.

Burn Hotter. The harder the wood you use the more heat you will generate over a longer period of time. Thus, creating less creosote. Hotter fires can also burn off some creosote. Try to avoid pitch-heavy or sappy woods such as Ponderosa Pine or Juniper.

Clean Your Chimney. If smoke is coming out your door instead of out the pipping, then you might have some creosote buildup.

Cut Your Firewood Correctly. When you cut firewood to the correct size, it can help cut down on creosote buildup over time. We’ve put together a quick guide with our How to Split Firewood Like a Pro.

Coastal Tip: Fire prevention professionals say that water-soaked newspaper put into a fireplace or wood stove can create enough steam to put out some chimney fires. 

Get Heating Answers at Coastal

The professionals in the Hearth and Home Department at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal can answer your questions and help get our wood stove, fireplace, pellet stove, or gas fireplace working efficiently and safely. Plus, you’ll find all the parts, accessories, and pellets you need to keep your family warm this winter.

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