The most common causes of masonry and manufactured metal chimney fires are:
The best way to prevent a chimney fire in your home is to:
Here are a few things to check if you’re experiencing issues:
According to the National Fire Protection Association Document 211, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” Factory recommendations also suggest to have the fireplace serviced at least once a year.
Wood-burning systems even with limited use are best cleaned yearly and masonry and factory built fireplaces should be cleaned when there is 1/8” of soot inside. Even if you only use your fireplace a few times a year, other things such as a damaged damper and loose or missing mortar can cause issues.
Fireplaces meeting the following conditions should have more frequent service:
Gas fireplaces should also have an annual inspection. The common assumption is that since gas burns clean and these fireplaces are easy to use, it means it doesn’t need inspection and possible cleaning. Gas units can and do accumulate residues that will eventually harm the integrity of their flues. Even if a gas system is rarely used, a simple inspection of the electrical and gas connections is regularly needed for safety.
Masonry fireplaces and chimneys are custom built directly onsite with brick or stone and mortar. Therefore, they are a permanent fixture and structural element of construction and design. Masonry fireplaces are typically wood-burning. Masonry fireplaces are the opposite of factory-built stoves, inserts and other “pre-fab” fireplace appliances. Masonry fireplaces and chimneys are usually as old as the house they are built in, as they are made to last a lifetime.
Masonry fireplaces and chimneys that are well constructed and receive proper maintenance can last over 50 years, sometimes for an entire lifetime.
Factory-built gas fireplace appliances that are correctly installed and receive proper maintenance can last up to 20 years.
Inserts are factory-built fireplaces units designed to fit directly into your existing fireplace opening and connect with your exterior venting system, as opposed to a free standing unit or stove. There are wood-burning fireplace inserts, gas fireplace inserts, as well as electric fireplace inserts. Inserts are a great solution to replace an old masonry fireplace and upgrade to a high-efficiency system, whether you prefer modern or traditional fireplaces.
It is highly recommended. There are many benefits to converting your older wood-burning fireplace for a direct vent gas insert of vented gas logs. The main reasons why more and more folks are switching to gas burning fireplaces systems are:
To start, you must have a licensed chimney sweep technician perform a chimney inspection, and a licensed professional to ensure there is a proper gas line installed before converting your wood-burning fireplace to a gas insert or gas log set.
The state of California does not allow:
*Portions reprinted with permission from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)
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