5 Ominous Things that Lurk Inside Chimneys
Experts on fire safety say regular chimney cleaning is important, but many people have their doubts. If the fireplace looks tidy and the chimney exterior still looks sturdy, maybe it’s hard to imagine anything sinister going on inside the narrow chimney passage. But in reality, ominous substances are commonly found in chimneys; and each can pose a health threat.
Creosote is a highly flammable tar-like substance deposited in the chimney flue every time there is a wood fire. Creosote is made up of clumped-together smoke, dirt, debris, and water vapor. Burning conditions determine the amount of combustion byproducts that stay behind in the lining instead of exiting through the chimney.
If you burn hot fires using seasoned firewood, less creosote is deposited in the flue. If you burn green wood, the fires will be smoky and inefficient, leaving behind a lot more creosote.
There are two hazards associated with a build-up of creosote:
- Too much of the flammable substance increases the likelihood of a dangerous chimney fire. Chimney fires involve intense heat that can damage the flue, leaving the home vulnerable to a house fire.
- Creosote can cling to the flue in layers, finally causing obstruction that won’t allow combustion gases to exit through the chimney. As a result, toxic gases can be released inside the home, including deadly carbon monoxide.
Soot is another byproduct of wood burning. It is toxic and extremely small, making it easy to inhale, ingest, or absorb through the skin. According to experts, chimney sweeps are believed to have the highest occupational exposure to soot. Long-term exposure can cause lung irritation and put a person’s respiratory system at risk.
Keeping moisture out of a chimney system is important, but it can be a challenge. Moisture can get in through a damaged chimney cap, a cracked chimney crown, faulty flashing, and deteriorating mortar that allows moisture into the masonry. Since mold thrives in environments that are dark, dank, and poorly ventilated, chimneys are susceptible.
4-Animal Droppings or Carcasses
If there is not a chimney cap on your chimney, creatures can get inside. It is not unusual for various critters to climb into chimneys, including birds, raccoons, snakes, squirrels, and bats. In some regions of the U.S., federally-protected chimney swifts build nests inside chimneys and raise babies before moving on in their migration travels. It is against federal law to disturb the birds, which means you can be exposed to a lot of noise, and a lot of bird droppings can be deposited into your chimney over the weeks that they make their home in your chimney.
Some animals get inside the chimney but can’t climb back out. If they die, your home will be exposed to a horrendous smell. It’s important to call a professional chimney sweep for live or dead animal removal, as protection against possible disease.
A chimney flue must be fully intact for your home to be safe when there are fires in your fireplace or wood stove. Flue damage can be difficult to find for a homeowner. It often requires a camera used by a professional chimney sweep during a chimney inspection to spot a crack or other types of deterioration in the flue. If this type of damage isn’t repaired or if the flue isn’t replaced, combustible parts of your home will be exposed to extreme heat, potentially resulting in a dangerous house fire.
Call the Experts
Is it time for your chimney to be cleaned? Contact the trained, certified chimney technicians at Chimney Saver Solutions today. Call the most respected full-service chimney company in the Richmond area at 804-440-5000.