Chimneys Are a Leading Cause of Thanksgiving Day Weekend House Fires

Blog by:  Piccadilly Square Chimney Sweeps:

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were an estimated 365,000 house fires in 2012, which resulted in over 2,300 deaths, and cost $5.7 billion in damages. One of the leading causes of home fires is a home’s chimney.

“Creosote, or ‘soot’, is unburned fuel that collects in the flu and chimney,” said Dennis Barnes, owner of Piccadilly Square Chimney Sweeps, which services Harford County, Baltimore County and nearby locations in Maryland. “When excess creosote builds up in chimney flu it becomes highly combustible, and can cause a fire that showers sparks onto the roof. It can create an extremely dangerous situation,” Barnes added.

What can homeowners do to significantly reduce the chance of a house fire?

Barnes knows the dangers of soot buildup.  During his 30-plus years in business, he’s seen the harrowing toll house fires can cause to good people.  His simple recommendation to reduce the risk of house fires is to “have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually, or per cord of wood burned.”

The National Fire Protection Association agrees, adding that oil and gas furnaces’ flues should be inspected every year, and cleaned every three and seven years, respectively.

“As we enter into the winter months, the dangers of house fires increase exponentially. In fact, the month of January accounts for 21% of all house fires.  The number one thing you can do to ensure the protection of your home and family is to schedule a chimney inspection before you start using your fireplace this year,” Barnes added.

What’s involved in a safety inspection of a chimney?

“Piccadilly’s chimney sweep technicians check the condition of your firebox, as well as your damper and flue, to determine typical problems such as creosote buildup, mortar deterioration, obstructions inside the flue, and malfunctioning damper parts,” Barnes said.

There are three levels of standard inspections.

  • Level 1 inspection involves your chimney service technician to examine the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue, as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.
  • Level 2 inspection is required when changes are made to the system, or when a home is sold. It is a more in-depth inspection than Level 1.
  • Level 3 inspection includes both Level 1 and Level 2 inspection requirements, and also includes the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary.

For additional information on chimney inspections and safety or to schedule an inspection, visit Piccadilly Square Chimney Sweeps website, call 410-879-6813, or email:

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  1. go2zero says:

    Do EPA certified ‘clean’ wood burners still produce soot/ creosote? If the answer is yes, then why the pointless appliance national standard that only works in the laboratory, without testing variances that effect the ventilation? Why forced changeouts? Is it a manufacturer and environmental labelling scam?

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