Are Sparks Flying out of My Chimney Normal?
Not only is this situation not normal, it’s not safe. If you see sparks and embers coming from the opening of your chimney, there’s a good likelihood that a chimney fire is occurring. Whether it’s from debris in the flue or you have creosote buildup in your chimney, it must be cleaned before you build another fire. Here’s what you need to know about this topic.
How to know if stuff is coming out of your chimney
Unless you enjoy your fireplace while sitting outside, you won’t know, in most cases, if your chimney is expelling fiery particles. Ways to find out if this is happening include:
- Periodically going outside while the fireplace is running
- Performing periodic visual inspections up on the roof to see if the area around the chimney is littered with post-fire debris
Fortunately, embers exiting the chimney is just one indicator of a chimney fire.
There are others:
- Strange tapping or clicking noises
- A rumbling sound like from a distant train
- Excess dark smoke backing up into the room
What to do if you suspect a chimney fire
Err on the side of caution, always. If you think there may be a fire in your chimney, first call 911. Then extinguish the fire in your fireplace with water, if safe to do so. Then get all people and pets (and valuables, if that seems necessary) out of the house.
Fire personnel will put out the fire and give you valuable information about the location, extent and likely cause of the fire.
After the danger has passed, your very next step should be to contact a local chimney services provider and arrange for a thorough chimney inspection.
Your inspector will determine what damage, if any, was caused by the event. He or she also will check out your entire fireplace/chimney system to spot any other damaged areas or components that could have happened because of or prior to the event.
How most chimney fires start
Far and away the most common cause of chimney fires is ignited creosote inside the flue. Creosote is a byproduct of smoke condensation and can present as a sticky, flakey, puffy or solid substance. In all forms, it is highly flammable.
If your chimney contains leftover nests of small animals who have used your flue as a birthing ground, this material also can ignite into a fire.
How to dramatically reduce the chances of a chimney fire
Professional chimney sweeps are the only individuals qualified to safely remove built-up creosote and soot (and debris) from your chimney. Licensed chimney technicians have specialized tools and extensive training in chimney safety, venting physics and chimney construction.
An annual chimney inspection visit from a reputable chimney sweep is the first and most important step toward reducing the chances of a chimney fire.
You can do a few things to help toward this goal:
- Burn only dry wood: Damp wood will create much more smoke and therefore much more creosote setting your chimney up for dangerous conditions.
- Burn nothing except wood: Never burn clothing material, furniture pieces, pressed board, plastic, cardboard or any other non-firewood items as they create way too much smoke
- Burn hardwoods like maple, poplar and oak: These woods are less smoky than fir, pine, redwood and other softwoods
Call the experts for proper chimney care
Chimney Saver Solutions of Richmond, VA, provides the services you need to keep your chimney clean, safe and fully operational. We offer licensed chimney inspections, chimney sweeping and all types of chimney repairs and rebuilding work.
Speak with a chimney expert today at (804) 440-5000.