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Common Causes of Chimney Fires and How to Avoid Them

By a long shot, not everyone reports that they have had a chimney fire, yet there are more than 25,000 chimney fires reported in the U.S. annually. It’s good to know the common causes of chimney fires and how to avoid them. Unbeknownst to many homeowners, it is rare for a chimney fire to extinguish itself before it has caused structural damage. The harm mostly occurs to the chimney liner, which must be fully intact to keep your family safe.

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What Causes Chimney Fires?

According to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), approximately 87% of residential building heating fires are confined fires. This means they are confined to chimneys or flues. The most common causes of chimney fires are creosote and flue blockage.


Only wood fires create a threat of a chimney fire caused by creosote. As combustion by-products exit the appliance and flow upward, a problem is created by the relatively cooler temperature of the chimney. Condensation occurs, causing a highly flammable residue called “creosote” to stick to the inner walls of the chimney flue. 

With each burn in your fireplace, creosote builds up in ever-thickening layers. Floating embers that go up the chimney can easily ignite creosote. Once a chimney fire starts, any creosote in the chimney can continually feed the fire. The heat transfer can penetrate brick, and fire can spread to your home.

Flue Blockage

Blocked chimney flues cause many of the chimney fires that occur in the U.S. every year. Creosote is the biggest culprit, sometimes having built up to the extent that combustion gases can no longer exit the chimney. A fire in your fireplace could also result in a chimney fire if the liner is obstructed by animal nests or other debris from nature. 

Chimney blockage causes more danger than a possible chimney fire. The toxic gases produced by fires usually blow into the room when there are obstructions. Carbon monoxide (CO) is among those toxins. CO causes at least 420 people to die in the U.S. every year. In addition, more than 100,000 individuals visit an emergency room annually because of accidental CO poisoning.

Now that you know the common causes of chimney fires, read on to learn how to avoid them.

How to Prevent Chimney Fires

There is some good news about potentially life-threatening chimney fires. How to avoid a chimney fire is a one-step process. Simply schedule an annual chimney cleaning. Never assume that a do-it-yourself chimney cleaning will do an adequate job. Only one type of creosote is easily removed with a professional chimney cleaning brush. Two more complicated forms of creosote require special equipment that is only used in the chimney sweep industry.

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Here is a bonus tip for home safety in connection with your fireplace or heating stove. This tip is recommended by every leading fire safety expert in the nation and usually goes hand in hand with chimney cleaning. Schedule an annual chimney inspection before a new burn season. A chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has the training needed to give you the maximum benefits of a chimney inspection and cleaning.

Contact Chimney Pros to Avoid Chimney Fires

The professional chimney sweeps at Chimney Saver Solutions are CSIA-certified, which means you could make no better choice for chimney inspections, chimney maintenance, chimney repairs, and avoiding chimney fires. Our chimney experts are familiar with the common causes of chimney fires and how to avoid them. 

Contact us today for greater peace of mind. Call 804-440-5000 to avoid chimney fires, or you can fill out our online form

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