Would you know if your chimney caught fire? You probably assume you would, as some chimney fires come with flames and sparks shooting from the rooftop, smoke billowing from the chimney, and a roaring sound like a freight train filling. Often, however, chimney fires go wholly unnoticed, and an undetected chimney fire can mean big danger for your home and your family. Knowing the subtle signs of a chimney fire can help keep your home and family safe.

chimney-fire-facts-image-seattle-wa-pristine-sweepsThe subtle signs of a chimney fire

There are some small signs that might indicate your chimney has caught fire. A stronger than usual smell of smoke may fill your home, or you may hear popping noises coming from your chimney. If you experience any of these signs, or the less subtle signs like billowing smoke, a roaring, or sparks shooting from your chimney, exit your home and call 911 immediately.

Sometimes chimney fires are so discrete, however, that the fact that they’ve occurred can only be detected by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep during your annual chimney inspection. If your chimney has had a smoldering fire, your chimney sweep will notice puffy or honeycombed creosote deposits; warped metal dampers, smoke chambers, or connectors; a warped factory-built metal chimney; broken flue tiles; cracks in the chimney’s exterior masonry; flakes of creosote on the roof or ground; damaged roof, roof-top TV antenna, or chimney cap; or evidence that smoke has escaped through cracks in the chimney.

The dangers of an undetected chimney fire

While it may sound like you’ve dodged a bullet by having a minor chimney fire, minor chimney fires can lead to a damaging, dangerous fire down the road because even a minor chimney fire can damage your chimney. The high temperatures of a chimney fire of cause the bricks and tiles of a masonry chimney to crack with the shock of the temperature change, and the high temperatures will cause mortar to melt. Prefabricated metal chimneys are made to contain the extreme temperatures of a chimney fire, but such temperatures usually will weaken, or even crack, the chimney. Once a mortar or metal chimney is damaged by chimney fire, that chimney will be unable to contain any future chimney fires, giving the sparks, flames, smoke, and high temperatures access to your home’s structure.

The importance of your chimney sweep

Your certified chimney sweep has two major roles to play in chimney fire prevention. First, chimney fires most often are caused by creosote buildup in unswept chimneys. Keeping your annual chimney cleaning prevents creosote from building up. During your annual chimney sweeping, your sweep also checks your chimney for the subtle signs of a chimney fire or other damage that would prevent your chimney from containing the high heat, flames, and gases of your fireplace.

If you’re overdue for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, call the certified technicians at Pristine Sweeps. We’ll make sure that your chimney is free of creosote, undamaged, and ready for a winter’s worth of fires.