What Causes Chimney Fires?

If you’ve ever noticed any gummy-looking black stuff in your chimney, chances are it’s creosote. This dark residue is a byproduct of burning wood and it sticks to the inner walls of chimneys. It can be either flaky, shiny, or sticky.

And since creosote forms through burning wood, it is naturally prone to catching on fire. As such, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) highlights its high combustibility as a primary safety concern.

Does Creosote Increase the Risk of a Chimney Fire?

Yes! Creosote is a combustible byproduct that can easily catch fire. And once it ignites, it can quickly spread through the chimney, causing the liner to break down and the masonry to crumble and crack. This means any future fires you light will be more prone to escape the chimney walls and enter your home.

an up-close shot of black gooey creosoteCreosote can also accumulate until it clogs the flue. This blocks the free flow of gases and smoke causing problems with drafting and airflow to develop. This hinders efficiency levels, and it puts you more at risk of being exposed to hazardous fumes, like smoke from your fires or even carbon monoxide – a deadly and extremely hard-to-detect gas.

Considering the health and safety hazards that creosote poses, regular chimney sweepings become a critical obligation. Professional chimney sweeps have the right equipment to assess any chimney’s condition and address creosote buildup before it becomes a problem. 

How To Prevent Creosote Buildup

While creosote isn’t unavoidable, there are ways to effectively reduce accumulation in your flue: 

  • Schedule Annual Chimney Inspections: It’s important to have a CSIA certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney once per year – before the fall burning season. This is where buildup can be spotted, along with any damages that need to be repaired. Your sweep can also note whether you’ve already experienced a chimney fire.
  • Don’t Neglect Sweepings: Regular service is the best way to prevent creosote buildup. If your sweep notes excess creosote deposits during their inspection, be sure to get a follow-up sweeping scheduled as soon as possible. Experts have the proper tools and can remove any buildup in your chimney walls or flue that boosts the chances of experiencing a chimney fire.
  • Burn Dry & Well-Seasoned Firewood: Be sure to only burn the correct type of wood in your system. Consider sourcing properly seasoned firewood and make sure it is sufficiently dried out before you toss it in the fireplace. If you put wet, unseasoned wood in your fireplace, you risk producing more residue that will eventually stick to chimney walls, greatly increasing your risk of experiencing a chimney fire.
  • Maintain Your Chimney Liner: Ensure that your chimney liner is in good shape and that the chimney is lined correctly. Properly installing a chimney liner improves its performance, but if the liner has been installed incorrectly, it will malfunction and even cause a bigger creosote problem. It can be confusing to determine whether your chimney liner is working correctly, so you it’s always best to rely on the eyes and knowledge of a pro.
  • Ensure Proper Chimney Airflow: Whenever you use your fireplace and chimney, be sure the structure gets enough air. Good draft helps fires burn at hotter temperatures, minimizing creosote production in the process. Be sure your damper is open wide enough, took, and get your inspection booked to ensure no blockages are present.

What Are the Signs of a Chimney Fire?

Most chimney fires move slowly and don’t produce a lot of noise, which means you may have had one without noticing. The CSIA identifies the following signs that your chimney could have survived fire before:

  • house burned to the ground with only the damaged chimney and fireplace standing, smoke is in the airBlack or dark-brown byproducts in chimney walls or fireplace
  • Honeycombed or puffy creosote
  • Exterior masonry cracks
  • Discoloration in the chimney cap
  • Damage to the roofing material due to hot byproducts
  • Warped damper metal
  • Heat-damaged TV antenna
  • Smoke escaping in areas other than the chimney, particularly through tile liners
  • Cracked and missing flue tiles

If you do notice that a chimney fire is currently occurring, exit the home immediately and get in touch with your local fire department as soon as possible. In addition, as you are leaving your home, the CSIA suggests closing the door behind you if you can. The goal is to prevent any more air from feeding the flames until the fire department arrives.

Invest in Professional Sweeping Services With Us Today

Even if you believe that your chimney is functioning correctly, there could be hazards hiding away, ready to cause issues. Scheduling a chimney inspection is one way to gain peace of mind, during which we can determine if you need a sweeping.

Creosote is a dangerous byproduct that you might fail to notice immediately. This material is combustible and can cause health and fire hazards in your home. To effectively avoid this issue, we suggest getting in touch with one of our CSIA certified chimney sweeping experts to inspect and clean your chimney. Schedule an inspection today!

7 Common Questions About Chimney Sweepings & Inspections

This is the time of year when people start thinking about putting their fireplace to more frequent use, so it’s not uncommon for us to get a lot of questions and phone calls regarding proper fireplace care and maintenance. If you find yourself wondering about inspections, sweepings, and more, check out some of the more common inquiries we get by reading below.

1) When should I start thinking about getting my fireplace swept and inspected in Houston?

sweep with tool sweeping chimneyMost people start thinking about scheduling their inspection right around this time of year. Fall is just around the corner, families start planning for the holidays, and homeowners suddenly realize that they better make sure their appliances are in good working order!

Unfortunately, because everyone tends to think the same thing at the same time, we get a lot of appointment requests throughout September, October, and November.

Needless to say, if you need work done, you will want to reach out as soon as you can! Repairs and inspections will book out later and later as the year progresses, and if you want a well-working fireplace by Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s much more likely to happen if you get in touch with us right away.

Then, next year, make sure to stay ahead of the curve by scheduling your inspection during late spring or early summer. May, June, and July are all ideal months to get your maintenance booked in a timely manner, and you’ll be more likely to get your appointment on a day and time that’s convenient for you.

2) Do you need to get an inspection done every year, no matter what?

Yes – an inspection should be completed every year to ensure optimal functioning. This way if there are small problems (like a small leak, crack, etc.), we can catch them while they are still minor and relatively easy to fix. If you wait until the issues are big and obvious, they will be much more expensive and time-consuming to fix.

All in all, preventative maintenance is always better on your budget, schedule, and stress levels, so don’t hesitate to get that yearly inspection on the books!

3) In terms of getting inspections done, is it just about how much you burn or is it also about heavy rain, hurricanes, and other major weather events?

The short answer here is… both! If you put your fireplace to lots of use, then you’ll definitely want it checked over for damages and build-up because both of these things can lead to some serious and dangerous issues down the line.

But bad weather will often lead to some major problems, too. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like can compromise your structural integrity a great deal, and by documenting your structure both before and after a natural disaster, you ensure your tracks are covered when it comes to getting compensation from your insurance company.

4) Most people know what sweeping a chimney sweeping consists of, but they don’t know what an inspection entails. Can you explain?

While a sweeping entails actually removing creosote out of the chimney with the use of brushes and vacuums, an inspection is what comes before that. Basically, we send cameras up your flue to check for any signs of cracking, deterioration, water damage, and more.

In the end, inspections are more about preventing more damages from occurring later on. We will also be able to tell what has happened to your system in the past (for instance, if it experienced a lightning strike or storm damage), which is especially good to know if you are buying a home. Home inspectors will quickly shine a flashlight in the appliance, then make a fast assumption on where you’re at. They aren’t actually required to look over a good portion of the chimney, which is a bit unsettling!

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances.“ Hiring a certified chimney professional is always your best bet and ensures you don’t wind up paying more for the home than you should. And you’ll have all of your bases covered when it comes to insurance, too – well worth it!

5) Are there any sure fire signs that you have waited too long to get a chimney swept?

Other than experiencing a chimney fire, most signs of creosote build-up aren’t all that obvious. You won’t truly know where you are at until you get an official inspection completed by a team of qualified sweeps.

6) What’s the difference between using a creosote sweeping log and getting a professional chimney sweeping completed?

When it comes to creosote sweeping logs, the name can be a bit deceiving. While they can make the creosote in your chimney easier for the professional to remove, they don’t actually remove the harmful substance.

These products should never replace an actual professional sweeping, and they will not clean your chimney. All in all, they’re not bad for your chimney, but they may not be worth the money you pay for them.

7) How do I know I have hired the right chimney sweep for the job?

There are a few main things to keep in mind when hiring a sweep. The first is whether or not they’re trained (and trained correctly). A surefire to know this is by checking for proper certifications and memberships from organizations like the CSIA, the NFI, and the NCSG. And keep in mind that some businesses will certify one sweep, claim the status, then fail to indicate that other team members (likely the ones coming to your home) are, in fact, not certified.

You’ll also want to make sure they use an actual camera to look your system over, have a physical office that you can check in with if issues arise, and hold all necessary insurance and liability policies.

Here at Lord’s Chimney, we believe communication is a key component in quality customer service, which is why you get an actual picture or video of the technician that is coming to your home, along with their certifications. You can bet that we’ve got everything necessary to provide you with the highest level of care, so don’t hesitate to reach out now.

Our Busy Season Is Almost Through, So Get Our Schedule Now!

With our busy season coming to a close, now is an ideal time to get your inspection, sweeping, or repair work scheduled. There are countless benefits to schedule chimney care this time of year, so get in touch Lords Chimney right away. We are always happy to help you out!

Scheduling At Your ConvenienceOur Busy Season Is Almost Through, So Get Our Schedule Now!

If you feel that free time is something that is hard to come by in your family, then you are not alone. We understand that your to-do list is long and many struggle when it comes to scheduling regular professional chimney care. Unfortunately, putting this maintenance on the back burner can lead to some serious risks.

That’s why we always aim to come at a time that is convenient for you, which is why we suggest getting your inspection in now while our schedule is more clear. This availability means you will have the freedom to schedule your appointment at a time that works well for you. No need to rearrange your hectic schedule! Just let us know what works, and we can schedule it.

Addressing Your Repairs Fast

Another big advantage of scheduling your chimney maintenance now is that we will be able to tackle any repairs right away. During the fall, repairs may need to be put on hold until our scheduled clears up. Throughout fall and early winter we stay very busy, so addressing repairs can take more time than usual, putting off your burn season. If we spot damages we can repair them now so you will be able to light up a fire early! While others are struggling to get maintenance completed, you will be ready to enjoy nights by a fire.

Importance Of Annual Inspections

All in all, regular inspections are never something to put off, and now is an ideal time to get yours completed. Skipping this maintenance could land you in some trouble when the time comes to light a fire. Using a system that is damaged or clogged increase your chances of experiencing chimney fires, gas leaks, and house fires.

Along with this, a chimney that is well cared for will run more efficiently, guaranteeing you more heat and a more pleasant aesthetic, overall.

Guarantee yourself a safer and more comfortable home by getting the care you deserve right away. The team at Lords Chimney is experienced, CSIA certified, and eager to provide you with top-notch customer care. Schedule an appointment online today. We’ll be happy to help you out right away!

We Are A HomeShow Radio Pro!

The HomeShow Radio Show with Tom Tynan is a well-loved and -respected program that many enjoy on a regular basis. Thanks to Tom andTrusted Pro Homeshow Radio badge his extensive knowledge on architecture and home construction, a number of homeowners throughout the Houston area look to him for great tips and advice every Saturday and Sunday morning. And with over two decades of experience building custom homes under his belt, you can rest easy taking his instructions to heart – Tom knows his stuff!

Well, one thing this show is known for is designating a select number of businesses as HomeShow Pros. As you can imagine, there are a large number of business throughout Houston and its surrounding areas, so to be given this honor is quite an accomplishment! Lords Chimney is proud to hold one of these titles, and Tom Tynan himself feels that we are a great team to trust with all of your chimney and fireplace needs.

Schedule An Inspection With Us Today

Now, with the holidays fast approaching, you want to work with a team that puts you at ease when it comes to chimney care. Based on our reputation, experience, and dedication to further education, we’re confident that we can handle anything you need done! Start off by scheduling an inspection with us. We’re CSIA trained and certified, so we can handle your annual maintenance, no problem.

An inspection is a surefire way to give you that peace of mind you’re hoping for as you dive into holiday festivities this season. There’s nothing like a crackling fire to light up some Christmas spirit, but you need to ensure your system is functioning safely before putting it to use! Otherwise, you could easily be faced with uncomfortable and dangerous scenarios, such as smoke back-up, chimney fires, gas leaks, and more.

We’ll do a thorough overview of your entire structure, and let you know if there are any issues that need our professional attention. We can offer advice and tips for moving forward, and before you know it, your system will be performing in tip-top shape.

Save yourself stress and hassle this Christmas by depending on us for it all!

We’re The Team For You!

From big to small, we can handle anything. Whether you have a minor leak, excessive creosote accumulation, or some major restoration work to get done, we’re the team trusted throughout Houston and all of its surrounding areas. Set your home up right for the holidays by putting your fireplace in our hands!

Time is running short and our schedule fills up fast, so if you’re hoping to get a nice fire going for all of your parties and get-togethers, then don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with us. There’s no time to lose! Give us a call today, and we’ll set you up right.

Resourceful Uses For Fireplace Ash

If you own a wood burning stove or fireplace, you have probably disposed of buckets and buckets worth of ash throughout the course of time. Most homeowners simply wait for their ash to cool, then throw it out with trash. However, there are a lot of ways you could use this substance a bit more resourcefully. Check out some great ways to utilize your ash pile, so you get the most out of every fire you burn!

Enrich Your Soil

If you are an avid gardener, then put some ash into your soil to amp up your gardening game. Just be careful which plants you add it near. Watch your pH levels, as ash will increase them, and steer clear of adding it to plants that thrive in acidic soil, like berries, fruit trees, rhododendrons, or azaleas. Tomatoes are a great example of a plant that would benefit from the addition of ash, as well as onion, broccoli, and cabbage.

Another gardening tip is to sprinkle ash around the outside of your garden beds to keep nasty pests away. Ash repels snails and slugs, and it helps in keeping out harmful diseases, as well. If you are a green thumb, fireplace ash can work wonders for your plants!

Make Cleaning Easier

Believe or not, ash can help a lot when it comes to cleaning around the house. If your fireplace doors are looking a bit foggy, dip a wet sponge or towel in your ash pile, then scrub away. You could also try the same technique, just with newspaper – it’s known for making your doors sparkle! Try it on your home’s windows, as well, to get off any stubborn dirt or debris.

Ash is also great for polishing silver, and the best part? It’s completely natural! Store bought products typically contain toxins that could cause damage throughout time. Instead, mix a little water in with some ash until a paste forms, then spread it on your silver. After a few minutes, wipe it clean, buff it, and your dishes and silverware will look good as new!

Other Uses

We’ve mentioned a few things you can do with ash, but the list could go on and on! If you are looking for a fun project, try using it to make some soap! Look up tutorials online for a fun way to spend your day or let your kids give it a shot. It also helps to hide paint stains on paving, and even removes pet odor from your furry critter’s coat! Rub in a handful to your dog or cat’s fur next time you give them a bath and get rid of any unpleasant smells with ease.

Always Remove Ash

Remember to clean out your ash on a regular basis to ensure strong fires and a healthy, long-lasting fireplace. A small layer is fine and can be helpful when starting up fires, but anything too thick should be scooped out and disposed of properly.

Learn more about safe ash removal and chimney sweeping today by calling on the certified pros at Lord’s Chimney. We can assist with any and all of your fireplace needs!