As you sit back and rest in the warmth of your fireplace, the condition of your chimney may well be the last thing on your mind. We know how it can be: you get home from a long day of work in one of those cold winter months, and nothing feels greater than that refreshing blaze giving off heat, light, and maybe a little joy. However, if your chimney is not properly maintained, that joy may be rather short-lived.
Chimneys keep you safe when working well. They carry out dangerous fumes and toxins from your fireplaces, wood stoves, and/or furnaces. As those fumes and toxins escape through the relatively cool chimney, they can condense leaving behind a residue that sticks to the walls of the chimney. This residue is called creosote: a highly combustible black or brown residue that can come in varying consistencies. As creosote builds up, it can restrict the airflow of the chimney which may allow dangerous fumes and toxins such as carbon monoxide back into your home, or worse, the creosote can ignite and start a chimney fire.
According to the 2012-2014 Residential Fire Loss Estimates released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), fireplaces, chimneys, and chimney connectors were responsible for on average…
- 22,300 residential structure fires a year,
- 20 residential structure deaths a year,
- 60 residential structure injuries a year, and
- $116,400,000 worth of residential property loss a year.
Chimney fires are dangerous and expensive to recover from. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), “The majority of chimney fires go undetected.” Too often slow-burning chimney fires lack enough fuel or air to be visible enough or climactic enough to be noticed. It isn’t until a thorough chimney inspection much later that the effects of the fire are discovered, and by then, it may be too late. For more information on chimney fires, check out CSIA’s chimney fire page. For a chimney sweep, call (616) 662-4400 or request a quote below.