It was reported recently that fireplaces or chimneys cause about 25,000 house fires per year in the U.S.
The damage is mostly due to flames migrating upward to crack, warp or melt the masonry or metal chimney walls.
How can you prevent chimney fires?
1. Minimize creosote (soot) build up by getting chimneys swept regularly. Clean when there is 1/8″ of soot buildup.
2. Get chimney inspected regularly. This would include a video inspection of the chimney to make sure there are no gaps or cracks which can be a fire hazard. If your chimney sweep only looks down the chimney or uses a hand held mirror, this is not good enough. He will most likely miss many cracks and gaps.
3. Install a chimney cap. The cap can keep out leaves, birds, bees, and rodents. Animal nests can provide fuel for a fire. The cost of removing birds, bees and rodents is much more than the cost of a chimney cap. If you are in a beach community, stainless steel caps will last a lot longer than plain metal ones.