What To Do And What Not to Do After a Chimney Fire

If you own a property with a fireplace, it’s critical that you have an understanding of what to do (and what not to do) if you experience a chimney fire. As a restoration and construction contractor helping Mundelein area property owners since 1954, we are experts in tackling fire and smoke damage. Here is an overview on chimney fires, and our most critical tips for dealing with them. 

How do Chimney Fires Happen?

Although several things can cause a chimney fire, the most common is a dirty chimney. Chimneys that are not frequently cleaned can have thick layers of build-up inside them. The black build-up inside of your flue and chimney is made of creosote and soot, by-products of burning wood.

When you burn wood, the smoke from the fire contains tiny unburned wood particles. The smoke cools as it passes through your chimney, leaving condensation on the walls of the flue lining – creosote. Because creosote contains unburned wood particles, it’s highly flammable. If the temperature within the flue is too high, the creosote inside can ignite and cause a chimney fire. 

Having your chimney cleaned on a regular basis keeps creosote build up down, preventing damage to your flue and these destructive fires. 

How Do You Know if a Chimney Fire is Happening (or Happened in the Past)?

While flames coming from the top of your flue are a guaranteed indication of a large chimney fire, smaller chimney fires can go unnoticed: The signs of a small chimney fire are almost the same as the signs of a normal fireplace fire. However, there are a few things you can look for as evidence of a small chimney fire – here’s what to look for. 

  • Puffy creosote
  • Warped metal on your damper, smoke chamber connector pipe, or factory built chimney
  • Flue tiles that are damaged, collapsed, cracked, or have pieces missing
  • A warped or discolored chimney cap
  • Smoke or heat damage to the roof around the chimney
  • Pieces of creosote on the roof
  • Cracks or damage to the exterior masonry on your chimney
  • Smoke or smoke damage penetrating the masonry or tile liners

Combustible creosote provides a lot of fuel, resulting in fires that can burn up to 2000 F degrees. Chimney fires are hot enough to melt metal flue liners, break and crack clay flue tiles, and damage masonry and in only a few moments – it’s easy to see how a small chimney fire can quickly turn into a large house fire. 

Chimney Fires: What To Do and What Not To Do

If you do experience a chimney fire that damages your home or business, you may feel scared, confused and overwhelmed. Is your home safe to be in? How can you be sure that all damaged parts of your home are repaired correctly? What about insurance coverage? At McMahon Services and Construction, we know how to help Chicagoland home and business owners get life back to normal after a fire. Here are our best tips for what to do (and what not to do) after a chimney fire.

What To Do Right Away During Or After A Chimney Fire

  • Call 911 to get help putting out any fire at your home.
  • Get your family to safety immediately.
  • Contact your insurance agent and let them know what happened.
  • Contact a disaster restoration contractor with 24/7 availability – a quick response helps to prevent more extensive damage to your home. 
  • Contact an experienced chimney mason for repairs and rebuilding.

What Not To Do During Or After A Chimney Fire

  • Don’t try to extinguish the fire yourself, unless it’s very small and you are certain you have the right equipment and experience. 
  • Don’t try to save possessions in your home – focus on getting your family safely out. 
  • Don’t enter your fire damaged home or business, even after the fire is out. Structural issues and dangerous chemicals may be present. 
  • Don’t start cleaning up, or move any damaged items yourself. This can be risky for the reasons listed in the previous point. Also, the damaged property will need to be accurately inspected by your insurance and contractors.

Don’t Wait To Tackle Fire and Smoke Damage

If your home, business or rental property has experienced fire or smoke damage, contact McMahon Services and Construction. These types of damage get worse with time, so fast action is essential. We will be on-site right away, and will partner with you and your insurance company to ensure that your home is safely and completely restored.