Homeowners who choose to use a wood stove or fireplace generally understand that keeping their chimneys clean will help them avoid the risk of a chimney fire. Some purchase brushes and other products designed to remove creosote and scour the interior surfaces clean. Others choose to have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect their chimney at the beginning of each heating season.
While both of these options are proactive steps that can help to prevent a chimney fire, they may not be enough. If you use a wood-burning fireplace or stove in your home and want to be even more diligent about protecting your family from a dangerous house fire, here are some additional points at which you should have your chimney professionally inspected.
When the chimney is damaged by storms
Dangerous storms that create high winds, strong lightning, and torrential rain are capable of causing structural damage to home chimneys that could result in a house fire. Even when the home is not directly impacted by the storm, it may still be impacted by a wind- or lightning-damaged tree limb or trunk.
Signs of this type of damage include cracked or missing mortar between bricks, cracked or shattered flue tiles, and damaged chimney caps. Damage of this nature has the potential to allow heat or sparks to penetrate the flue's interior surface and ignite wood and other building materials that may be situated near the chimney.
Homeowners who find that lightning, high wind, or heavy rain has caused damage to their roof or flue should immediately stop using their wood-burning fireplace or stove until it can be professionally inspected and found to be safe for use.
When a flue fire is suspected
One of the reasons why a flue fire is so dangerous is that they can occur when the family is away or asleep. Yet, even if undetected, the intense heat of a flue fire can cause damage to the interior surfaces of the flue that could pose further risk of fire if not found and repaired before further use.
Signs that a flue fire may have occurred include the following:
- discoloration or warping of the rain cap, damper, or metal chimney parts
- heat damage to nearby metal objects, such as antennas
- the sudden appearance of discoloration, ash, or creosote on the roof, near the base of the chimney
- seeing creosote inside the chimney that resembles honey comb or looks puffy or spongy
Homeowners who feel that their chimney has incurred any type of damage or wear that may put their home at risk of a flue fire are urged to stop using it until it can be professionally inspected and found to be safe. Contact a company like Home Scope by Cornerstone to learn more.