A number of chimney fires have been reported in East Texas in the past couple of weeks. Officials say in order to prevent a chimney fire in your home, you should make sure your chimney is properly installed and maintained.
Fire officials say you should have your chimney cleaned out every two to three years, but you should have it inspected yearly. "It needs to be cleaned by a professional and that might not need to be done every year, but it is necessary that you check your chimney every year," said City of Tyler Fire Investigator, James Suggs.
One of the things a professional chimney cleaner inspects is whether your chimney has a buildup of creosote. "If you burn a lot of wood, you're going to build up a lot of creosote in your chimney," said Robert Sweeney, who owns the "Chimney Sweep" in Tyler.
He says if you build a fire that is too large and you have a buildup of creosote, your home might be in danger. "It can catch that creosote on fire up in your chimney, and cause a chimney fire," said Sweeney. Once that happens, the fire can quickly spread. "A chimney fire can reach 1500 degrees temperature. It can make that mortar in between the bricks just run out like water. It throw fire balls all over the roof," said Sweeney.
After you've had your chimney checked, fire officials recommend that when you use your fireplace, to make sure the damper is open, be sure you have a screen in place and don't use any paper or flammable liquids. If you use a fire-starting product be sure it's labeled and you read the directions.
Suggs says it is also a good idea to use seasoned wood to prevent accumulation of creosote.
In the past two years, Tyler has had 25 fires from space heaters or chimney-related fires. A chimney inspection costs around $50. To have it cleaned, you can expect to pay about $125.