FIRE! Waiting to happen!

By
Home Inspector with Helm Home Inspections

 

This post is about solid fuel burning appliances and potential chimney fires.  Solid fuel appliances are usually wood burning fireplaces or stoves, including inserts.  The chimney serving these appliances should be cleaned every year.  The picture below shows a chimney with major creosote buildup.  The very next fire in the stove could be the one to set off a chimney fire; and chimney fires often burn houses down!

 

 

Creosote
Creosote

What does all this mean for  a home buyer?  It certainly means you would need to have the chimney cleaned before ever lighting a fire in the stove.

The National Chimney Sweep Guild recommends a level II chimney inspection any time the ownership of a house changes.  This is a much more stringent inspection than can be performed by a home inspector.  This inspection must be performed by a certified Chimney Sweep.  There are two companies in this area who carry this certification:  Haulin Ash and The Chimney Sweep.

Thanks for reading.

David Helm, Bellingham, Washington home inspector

http://www.helmhomeinspections.com

Posted by

David Helm, Inspector, Helm Home  Inspections Bellingham, Washington  Licensed Home  Inspector #272                                                       WSDA  Licensed Structural Pest Inspector  #69844              http://www.helmhomeinspections.com           HelmHomeInspections@yahoo.com                                                                               

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Ambassador
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Having witnessed a few chimney fires----they can be very nasty.  Picture  your chimney looking like a blow torch for 20 minutes shooting 50 feet in the air.  In that period of time a LOT of other things are at serious risk of overheating and catching on fire.  Good post David.

Feb 14, 2009 06:40 AM #1
Rainmaker
284,767
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate

I lived in my home for four years without no problems.  I rented it out and two days later they torched the house with a chimney fire.

Feb 15, 2009 11:49 AM #2
Rainer
67,462
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

Hi Charlie, Thanks for looking in.  I also have witnessed a chimney fire; fortunately not my own house.  The roar was enough to scare the daylights out of me.

Gene; Sorry to hear that.  The annual chimney cleaning is very important.

Feb 16, 2009 01:40 AM #3
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

You just can't believe how loud it is until you have heard one.

Feb 16, 2009 01:44 AM #4
Rainer
639,083
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Charles - We had our cleaned in December just to be on the safe side. Ceil always starts nagging around late September. It's painless, one cleans the inside (neatly lays covering on the floor) and the other works from the roof. Please folks, get it done.

Feb 18, 2009 12:26 PM #5
Rainer
67,462
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

Okay Carl, I know Charlie has way more presence on AR, but my friend, you must know that this is my post!  How are you old man? 

Feb 19, 2009 01:10 AM #6
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Ruh Roh----I sense a chimney fire coming on:)

Feb 19, 2009 01:13 AM #7
Rainmaker
11,196
Glen Kotulek
Home Critique Property Inspections LLC - Austin, TX
Austin Home Inspector, schedule online www.homecritiquepi.com

WOW!  That is one amazing amount of creosote!  I have never seen anything like that!   BUT,  we have about 10 days of freezing weather around here a year!  I do see chimney fires around here, but they are mostly construction design flaws and not creosote issues.   Keep up the good work guys and try to get along!!

Feb 22, 2009 12:18 PM #8
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David Helm

Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
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