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  • Writer's pictureIan Myers

Chimney Safety Secrets

We have had some sweeping customers as of late let us know that they are calling us because they have heard about devastating chimney fires over the last few years in the County. They are actually quite scared this could happen to them.

We always like to give good information about these matters because it is equally disturbing to us that homeowners should be frightened of their wood burning systems.

It is after all for a lot of us the most cost effective and environmentally sound choice for supplemental home heating in Haliburton County. You might say the trees are falling into our wood piles- but, that is another story.

Here's what you should know:

All modern, ULCS629 compliant chimney is highly resistant to chimney fires. They are so well

insulated that they stay hotter when the fire is on so therefore there is less cooling in the chimney-so less condensing of the gases (which is creosote). In fact it is extremely helpful to the chimney sweep since if there are large creosote deposits it is an indication of another problem with the system- usually the stove.

Beyond that the #1 culprit of creosote formation is not having the chimney swept enough. A build up of non-flammable soot within the chimney can cause a restriction that would then create 2nd and 3rd degree creosote- which is flammable. But, if the chimney system is compliant even that is a non-issue. Since little flare ups are a common occurrence and largely go unnoticed to the home owner. But it must be said that good advice should be had as to when your system should be cleaned to avoid the above mentioned condition.

Masonry chimneys can be different. In fact, when wood burning house fires occur it is usually related to masonry chimneys. Code requires that masonry chimneys have 2'' clearance to combustible framing when the chimney is located within the building structure. I think I have maybe seen that twice. It is the responsibility of the installer of a wood burning stove to such a chimney to identify this deficiency and address it through relining the chimney and insulating it with an acceptable method. It can add as little as 190.00 more to the cost of a liner installation when added at the time the liner is installed. It is a sad reality that most installers out there have no interest in this requirement and do not do the required insulating of the liner even though it is clearly outlined in building Code.

I guess consumers need to ask this question when it comes time to install that new wood stove and connect it to the old masonry chimney. The insulation of the liner replicates the above mentioned characteristics of the stainless steel chimney. An insulated liner has less creosote in general, stronger draft and better stove performance. It also has the added feature of insulating your home should there be a fire present in your chimney. What other insurance can you buy that is so important and is only a one time fee of 190.00?


Ian Myers


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