Unlike other fires in the home, chimney fires can go undetected. Of the 7,000 or so chimney fires that occur in England every year, many of them are slow-burning fires that may not be obvious and are only detected upon inspection. Regular chimney inspections can help prevent a fire in your home, but it’s also important to know what to do if you suspect a chimney fire. Here are some of the common signs of a chimney fire to look out for.
Signs of a fast-burning chimney fire
If you have a fast-burning chimney fire in your home, it will be obvious. The most common signs of this type of chimney fire are:
Flames or sparks. One of the most apparent signs of a chimney fire is visible flames, which are usually visible from the top of the chimney. It’s also possible that you will notice pieces of flaming creosote coming out of the chimney, even if you cannot see the flames directly.
A loud cracking, popping or roaring noise. If your chimney is on fire, you may hear a loud noise similar to a bonfire burning. You may also notice a sudden roaring sound, similar to a large oncoming vehicle.
A lot of smoke. Like most fires, a chimney fire creates a lot of dense smoke. This may be seen from the top of the chimney or from the fireplace within your home.
A strong smell. If there is a strong burning smell in your home, it may mean you have a chimney fire.
Signs of a slow-burning chimney fire
If you have had a slow-burning chimney fire in your property, you may not even know that it happened until your chimney is inspected. This type of chimney fire generally occurs when flammable substances on the sides of your chimney flue don’t have enough oxygen or fuel to create a noticeable fire. The most common signs of this type of chimney fire include:
Changes in colour. If the creosote becomes grey or the metal components become discoloured, this can be a sign of a slow-burning chimney fire.
Cracks and damage. A slow-burning fire can cause damage to various parts of the chimney structure, including the flue tiles and the exterior masonry, or damage to surrounding roof structures such as vents or television antennas.
Creosote pieces outside the chimney. If you notice chunks of creosote on the ground or the roof, this can be a sign of excessive heat caused by a slow-burning chimney fire.
What to do if you notice signs of a chimney fire
If you notice any signs of a fast-burning chimney fire in your home, you must leave the property immediately and call 999. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your home insurance policy digitally or somewhere safe outside the property so you have access to it in the case of a fire.
If you notice any of the common signs of a slow-burning chimney fire, you should get your chimney cleaned as soon as possible. Well-maintained chimneys are very unlikely to catch fire, so keeping your chimney clean and well looked after is the best way to prevent a chimney fire in your home.