What causes chimney fires?
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Creosote is the residue which coats the inside your chimney. It is primarily caused by smoldering fires, burning unseasoned wood, and/or burning with inadequate ventilation. It is highly combustible. When you have a chimney fire, it is the creosote which ignites and burns at extremely high temperatures -- sometimes hot enough to melt the mortar, metal and crack tile, & bricks. When this happens the frame of the house may be exposed to flames & conductive heat, quickly spreading the fire to the attached walls or roof. The first chimney fire may not burn the house... However, it may do enough damage that the second chimney fire may burn the house down.
Again, we want to stress, if you are uncertain as to the condition of your fireplace or chimney, or if you think that you might have had a chimney fire it is well worth the effort to call in a professional. Having a qualified chimney sweep inspect and clean your fireplace & chimney is it's own insurance policy.
Some ways to prevent chimney fires include:
Burn only seasoned Firewood
Burning small hot fires
Do not burn cardboard or trash.
Make sure that your chimney and wood-burning appliances are inspected on a regular basis by a qualified professional.
Try an Hasty Heat Grate Insert, because it burns at a higher temperature, and burns off much of the pollution, it will reduce (though not eliminate) the creosote build-up inside your chimney.