If you own a woodstove and use it regularly, preventing a chimney fire is something you need to know
What Causes a Chimney Fire?
When you burn in a wood stove, a byproduct called creosote builds up on the inside of the chimney. If you’re not familiar with what creosote is, here is a great explanation: “Creosote is a gummy, foul smelling, corrosive and extremely combustible substance that, if no precautions are taken, will coat the insides of everything it passes through. It is formed when volatile gases given off in the burning process combine and condense on their way out of the chimney…..It can form a hard layer coating the insides of pipes and chimney liners. It can form into a fluffy substance that plugs pipes and breaks off and falls down, filling low spots in piping. It is the cause of most chimney fires and the main reason chimneys and pipes have to be cleaned and inspected periodically.”
How to Prevent a Chimney Fire:
1. Clean your chimney You can always tell when our stove pipe is getting clogged up and needs to be cleaned. When your stove is consistently not drafting well and smoke comes out the door rather than drafting up the stove pipe you know it is time to clean it out. You can buy one of these brushes and one of these extension rods. Being pretty comfortable up on the roof is a factor in utilizing this investment. This isn’t a safe option for everyone. You can also hire someone to clean your chimney.
2. Use dry wood. If your wood is wet or not fully cured, it will not burn as hot as dry wood. It will also smoke more. Burning wet wood leads to creosote building up faster in your chimney.
3. Burn the hardest firewood you can find. Hardwood trees are not native to our area. When you go out to cut firewood, we search for downed tree’s, large branches, of native wood in your area. Compared to those of you who burn hardwoods, creosote will build up faster in your chimney burning “pines”. Steer clear of really sappy pines like Ponderosa Pine or wood that just doesn’t burn hot.
4. Burn your wood stove in the “burn zone” daily. If you burn your wood stove hot enough on a regular basis, it will help prevent the build up of creosote. Use this handy gadget that attaches to our stove pipe to gauge the temperature. It shows not only when you are in the “burn zone” but when the stove is getting too hot and into the “over fire” zone and we need to close the flue a bit.
5. Use a creosote remover powder. This is a powdery substance you put in your wood stove and then burn a hot fire. This is supposed to turn the creosote into a powder. This is not a replacement for cleaning your chimney but can help reduce the creosote. The only time we’ve used this was when it was too snowy to get on the roof to clean the chimney and we needed to eliminate some of the creosote build up.
If you use a wood stove on a regular basis, implementing these tips can go a long way in helping you to prevent a chimney fire. Always make a point of getting up on the roof, inspecting the chimney and cleaning it out at least once a year. Our hope in sharing these tips is that it will help you become more aware of what causes a chimney fire and how to prevent it. Wood stoves offer wonderful warmth and can help save money heating your house, but they can be dangerous if you don’t know proper maintenance. So now you can stay cozy, warm and safe at home!
“TIPS” are just suggestions for your general information, WoodHeatStoves.com will not be held liable and use of this information is at your own risk.