How To Prevent Home Chimney Fires

By Nancy B
September 13, 2022





Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to safely contain wood-fuel fires and provide heat and ambiance for your home as cold weather comes to Virginia. Your chimney has the job of moving the by-products of combustion such as smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog, and assorted minerals away from your home. Find out how these by-products cause a winter home fire hazard and what to do about it.

How creosote causes chimney fires

As by-products exit the fireplace or woodstove and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation creates a residue that sticks to the chimney's inner walls is called creosoteWith each burn in your fireplace, creosote builds layer upon layer. When those layers began to burn up inside your chimney, the fire can actually spread to your home through the brick by heat transfer. 

Watch how creosote created a devastating fire in August of 2020 in this home:

Why you should hire a chimney professional

Clean chimneys don't catch fire. Chimney fires account for 75% of home heating fires. If you do not have your chimney professionally cleaned each year, you run the danger of that build-up catching on fire and spreading to other areas of your home. The best way to prevent a chimney fire is to have an annual inspection and cleaning performed by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. A professional chimney service will not just take care of creosote deposits and ensure structural soundness and correct clearances.


We know what you’re thinking. What a pain in the ash!

Or maybe you're thinking: I really don't want to spend the money. Do I really need to pay someone to have my fireplace or wood stove inspected and cleaned?

YES! Here’s why:

  1. They can identify signs of smaller chimney fires that can happen without you even knowing because they extinguish on their own from a lack of oxygen. A BIG warning sign!
  2. It’s a really difficult job that is both messy and dangerous!
  3. This deeper level cleaning removes flammable creosote build-up that you can’t reach.
  4. Professionals have expert knowledge and special equipment.
  5. A qualified specialist will ensure your chimney is structurally sound.
  6. They can ensure the top of your chimney is free from moisture, critters, and debris and you have a good spark arrestor cap.


What does it cost to have a chimney cleaned in Virginia?

The average cost of professional chimney cleaning and inspection is $250. Don’t skimp here. It’s peace of mind and basic maintenance. Even gas fireplaces need to be inspected and cleaned. We know from decades of experience here at NNINS that fire loss is the most costly home insurance claim. The good news is they are also the most avoidable. Don't miss our helpful articles about maintaining your fireplace and wood stove throughout the fall and winter months. 



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