Now is the time that homeowners are firing up their fireplaces and stoves for the first time of the season. As temperatures dip lower and lower, the fires are going to burn longer and hotter. Before fall turns to winter, there are some things you can do to help prevent a chimney fire this winter.

Chimney Fires

Heating is the second leading cause of fires after cooking. The simple act of staying warm can become devastating when a fire occurs, resulting in loss of health, life, and property. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there was an average of 45,900 home heating fires in the United States each year from 2012 to 2015.  These fires resulted in 205 deaths per year, 725 injuries, and $506 million in property loss. Home heating can be dangerous when precautions aren’t taken, and according to USFA, 75 percent of home heating fires are chimney and flue system fires.

Preventative Maintenance

Whether you’re talking about your body or your car, some routine maintenance can prevent all kinds of problems. The same goes for your home. Both the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend routine maintenance in order to prevent chimney fires.

  • Chimney Inspections
    Annual inspections are required by most homeowners insurance providers and to maintain many product warranties. When you schedule an annual inspection, a chimney expert assesses the chimney system from top to bottom, noting any weaknesses or hazards that will lead to a fire. When you schedule the inspection early enough, you will have time for necessary repairs before winter.
  • Chimney Sweeps
    Keeping the chimney clean is one of the best ways to prevent fire. Creosote and soot build-up over time in the flue, and can become a fire hazard. Creosote itself is highly flammable and will result in a devastating fire if it is left in the flue to ignite. A chimney sweep is a cleaning away of all the debris, soot, and ash in the chimney system.

Be Proactive About Your Chimney Maintenance

If you remain proactive, your system will be safer, more efficient, and last longer! If efficiency drops, the risk of fire goes up. In order to keep your system working properly and doing its job without starting a fire, you have to also use it correctly.

  • Burn proper fuel in your fireplace.
    Properly seasoned wood is the only thing that will burn efficiently in your fireplace. Burning trash, paper, or cloth can result in excess soot and creosote as well as flames rising up the flue.
  • Never let your fire smolder or leave it unattended.
    Allowing a fire to smolder overnight is purposely dropping the efficiency. This automatically raises the risk of fire.
  • Never use gasoline or other fuel to light your fire.
    This can result in injury and fire. Make sure you have kindling on hand to light your fire. A good way to light a fire is using the top-down method.
  • Practice fire safety!
    Make sure your family knows the rules and habits to adhere to. Find resources for family emergency planning at

If you haven’t scheduled your routine maintenance that will keep your chimney safer this winter, call RMR today. We can handle your routine maintenance, your repair needs, installations, and even discuss fire prevention with you while we’re at it. Call (847) 290-1883 today.