Failing to maintain your woodstove or fireplace properly can lead to a chimney fire. Chimney fires occur when combustible deposits on the inner walls of the chimney ignite. These combustible deposits, called "creosote”, are a natural by-product of wood burning. A fire hazard exists if 1/4 inch of creosote (or more) coats the inner walls of the chimney.
Prevention: Chimney fires do not occur in clean, intact, properly installed chimneys. Have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your appliance at least once a year. More frequent cleanings may be required, based on the type of wood burned, the type of appliance, and the frequency of use. In general, an older, uncertified woodstove, or any appliance that is used frequently, will require more than one cleaning per year. Burn only well seasoned firewood in your heating appliance and never burn papers or garbage. Burning paper can easily be lifted up the chimney by the natural draft and ignite the creosote. Also note that the municipal burning by-law prohibits burning any material that creates toxic smoke or obnoxious odours in violation of the requirements of the Ministry of Environment, Air Quality Branch.
Detection: The first indication of a chimney fire is usually the noise—a roaring sound that grows louder as the fire’s intensity increases. Clouds of black smoke and sparks will be seen exiting the top of the chimney; in severe fires, flames can extend several feet above the chimney.
Action: In case of a chimney fire, follow these steps:
Call the fire department immediately.
Alert others in the house to evacuate.
After a chimney fire, have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep or woodstove/fireplace installer. Contact your insurance carrier. DO NOT USE THE CHIMNEY UNTIL A PROFESSIONAL HAS INSPECTED IT. The excessive heat produced by a chimney fire can crack chimney walls, damage chimney liners, and damage some types of factory-built chimneys. If not repaired, these damages create a greater possibility for any subsequent chimney fire to spread beyond the confines of the flue to the house
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