Q&A Chimney fire - What Happens to the chimney?

QandA Posted By QandA, Oct 5, 2001 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    I live in a newer house with a Brick fireplace and chimney. It meets all local codes. If I had a chimney fire what disaster could happen and after the fire would all the creosote be burned out?


    Most often, a chimney fire expands the creosote in the chimney and cracks the clay tile liners. Your home is now much more susceptible to extreme damage from the next impending chimney fire. If you're interested, email me and I'll send you a photo of a chimney after a chimney fire which definitively shows that a chimney fire normally does not clean out the chimney.

    The clay tile liners and brick in the chimney are the only barrier between the smoke in the chimney and the combustible framing of your home. Once the clay tile liner has cracked then a potential passageway has been provided for additional creosote to build up outside of the chimney flue and closer to combustibles. It's usually a second or subsequent chimney fire that causes devastating damage. Keep in mind that a chimney is meant to be a passageway for SMOKE and is not meant to be exposed to fire! A clay tile liner is designed to withstand temperatures of only about 130 degrees F.

    Here's an interesting experiment: put a clay tile liner on the ground, set on 4 bricks to raise it a little. Ball up about 10 sheets of newspaper. Light the newspaper from the bottom. Within 10-20 seconds you'll hear and see the clay tile liner crack. Now imagine how much more devastating the damage is when you have a tile liner coated with creosote which can burn at 2100 degrees.

    So avoid a chimney fire by burning dry and seasoned wood. Have the chimney cleaned regularly! Don't choke down your fire; burn smaller amounts of wood and burn it hotter. If a chimney fire occurs, do not light another fire until you have the chimney thoroughly cleaned and inspected. If damage is found then call your homeowners insurance as they will usually page to have the chimney repaired if needed.

    -Karen Duke CSIA certified chimney sweep
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