Why Is Your Chimney a Fire Hazard?


Before you find a chimney sweep Alpharetta has to offer or buy a cleaning log, one thing to think about is why your chimney could be a fire hazard in the first place. This is something that you may have heard a lot, including hearing it from the home inspector when you bought your house, but do you really know what the danger is? Many people do not, thinking that the brick or stone chimney should be very safe. After all, wasn’t it built out of brick in the first place because the builders wanted to use a material that would not burn?

To some degree, you are right. That is why the chimney was made of bricks, and it is not the bricks themselves that are the problem. They were a good choice for the house. The issue is that there is a lot of ash and debris that go up the chimney every time that you have a fire. The more that you burn paper and cardboard – two things that homeowners often use as fire starters – the more ash you create. Most of this is going to burn up or leave with the smoke, but a certain amount of it sticks and coats the inside of the chimney.

It is this coating that is dangerous because it is still flammable. The bricks are not going to catch on fire, but the heavy coating over them could. When sparks fly up the chimney or hot embers are carried up on the hot air, they could land on that coating, starting a fire in the chimney itself. While it is true that this small fire could burn itself out quickly – this may have already happened without your knowing about it – it is also true that it could spread to the rest of the chimney, the roof, and your entire home.

Brick chimneys are very reliable and they are not dangerous in their own right. The same is true for the metal pipes that you may have running from a wood stove to the ceiling or from a pellet stove to the side of the house. These materials were selected because they do not burn, so they should keep your home safe. However, as you can see, this is not a perfect science, which is why an old chimney can actually be more of a fire hazard than you would assume.

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