Creosote fires?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jillis, Dec 10, 2005.

  1. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

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    What is the best thing to do in the event of a creosote fire in your chimney? Should you shoot the fire extinguisher up the chimney after dousing the fire?
     
  2. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    Good question. Funny I have a fire extinguisher and never thought of using it on my fireplace if I had a chimney fire. I would say empty it completely on the fire and then up the chimney with whatever is left and then shut the damper and call 911, assuming you live where firefighters are handy. Even if it goes out, it might not be out.

    Another good question for homesteaders:
    What do you do in the event of a fire if you evacuate your house in -40F?
    I suppose the answer is to always have what you need to evacuate in your vehicle, assuming it is not in your garage.
     

  3. kuriakos

    kuriakos Well-Known Member

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    Yes, if you can do it safely you should shoot the fire extinguisher up the chimney and then close all air inlets. Get everyone out of the house and call the fire department to make sure it's really out and check for extension. While you're waiting for them, wet down the roof and any other surfaces around the chimney.
     
  4. kuriakos

    kuriakos Well-Known Member

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    Also, get the chimney inspected before using it again.
     
  5. Bresias

    Bresias Restless User

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    Will a regular home depot type fire extinguisher shoot high enough to reach a chimney fire? I would think you'd need a flexible shaft to you could point the stream upward.

    Regarding a house fire in -40. Horrible thought.

    Also; I realized we left our garden hose hooked up and full of water (major durr). Then, it got buried in snow :1pig: What if you needed your hose in an emergency like this, and found it frozen? Gots me thinking.

    Per another thread, my "mostly stupid" rating is clear, now.
     
  6. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    I think the draft would take the chemicals of the fire extinguisher up the chimney. If it is CO2 it displaces the oxygen. If it is dry chem or the other type it interupts the chemical reaction. I would use either one. The problem is getting it in early enough. If it has time to get hot I think it would reignite after going out. Shutting the damper immediately before and after emptying the extinguisher is key because otherwise the draft will blow it right past and reignite the fire before it has time to cool down after being extinguished.

    I think an 5 or 10 lb 'ABC' type is the extinguisher you want to use.
    'ABC' is your usual red fire extinguisher that works on electrical fires also.
    http://www.mcgill.ca/facilities/downtown/fp/firex/
     
  7. crystalniche

    crystalniche Well-Known Member

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    The first thing you do is think! Yep, we had a chimney fire one time. My husband woke me up and told me to get our son dressed and out of the house as there was a chimney fire. It took me a few seconds to really wake up. As I was threading the "wet noodle" arm of my still mostly sleeping son into his coat sleeve I looked at my husband and asked him where the fire was in the chimney???? Up in the cap. Oh really? Then get yourself up on the roof with the metal fencepost that is sitting by the front door (don't ask! LOL) and knock the whole chimney off into the snow. Then put a rock or something over the stub to smother the fire. I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a large pan lid and held it tightly over the damper. My husband had already thrown water into the stove to put the fire out in there. The door was tightly closed. I made our son go and sit in the chair beside the door just in case. I'll bet you've already guessed that we had a really tall metalbestose chimney on the outside of the house and by knocking it off into the snow he also knocked the burning area into the snow. In a few minutes the fire was out. The next morning we replaced the chimney and were back in business. My husband had panicked and was getting us out of the house (a good thing) first then he had planned at attack the fire with the garden hose---in freezing weather??
     
  8. Richard6br

    Richard6br Well-Known Member

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    You need to smother a flue fire. Cut off all the oxygen by closing the draft and air controls on the wood burner. You may not have a choice, if the fire is going really strong, but hose down a flue thats on fire and chances are that you will damage it. Now that you have that fire out, you need to ask yourself what caused it so it doesn't happen again. I had a flue fire back in the 80,s and haven't had one since. I made the mistake of building my flue from blocks and liners on the outside of the house. [Some of these flues were built WITHOUT liners]. Building your flue on the outside of the house is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make. If you insist on using blocks and liners, build your flue on the inside of the house. This keeps the flue warm, which reduces the amount of creasote and also helps with the draft. After the flue fire, I did a LOT of homework. I ended up tearing down the old flue and going with a triple wall stainless steel flue made by Simpson. Its simple to keep from having a flue fire. Build one HOT fire a day, Use seasoned wood ONLY, keep your flue cleaned regularly, and don't let the wood smolder, always have a flame. I recommend useing a triple wall flue system. I haven't needed to clean mine in over 5 years. Another bit of advice, If your flue is made of blocks have it checked out, you could have damage. My flue was cracked in a number of places and they didn't all happen with the flue fire. You get your fire going really hot with a cold flue and you can damage it. When I had my flue fire and noticed the cracks in the flue blocks, I notified the insurance company and they paid for a new flue. I used the money to help purchase the triple wall flue. P.S. When I tore down the old flue, I realized how close I came to burning my house down with my flue fire. Even with a 1" space behind the flue, the wood sheathing near the top of the flue was charred.
     
  9. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the good advice.
    Our chimney seems to be a really good one. There are 3 flues---one for the fireplace, one for the oil furnace, and one for the wood furnace. OUr chimey flues are all sheathed in steel and on the outward, visible surfaces are big blocks of Canadian granite. We also have a steel roof.
    We are waiting on the wood furnace repair guy to replace the few parts we need to make it operational. We called him early in the season but he is probably finding installations more lucrative than the small repair we need at this time. We bought this place 1 1/2 years ago and last winter were up to our gills in boxes and repairs and never got the wood furnace up. This year, with oil prices skyrocketing and 8 of our 10 acres wooded, well, it just makes sense to use wood. We use it upstairs in the fireplace and while the bedrooms and bathrooms are chilly they are not freezing and the open living space that includes kitchen, dining room and living room is very comfortable.
    I am planning on getting a chimney brush when I know what type is best.
    Thanks again, to all!
    Blessings, Jillis!
     
  10. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    :bow: smothering sounds like it is the best bet. i have had a couple fires in my lifetime of burning wood. i have experienced the fires of my neighbors too. everyone around here seems to smother the chimney from the top and bottom. the last time, at my uncle's place, i placed a metal plate over the top of the chimney flue. all drafts and dampers were shut off as well. in time hopefully it will smother out.

    always get professional help with this. even if it appears the fire has gone out, perhaps the flue cracked from excessive heat or from an earlier shift in the foundation. if so, fire may make it to the walls of the house. do not use such a chimney again without an inspection for damage.
     
  11. woolyfluff

    woolyfluff Well-Known Member

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    ALWAYS KEEP A BOX OF BAKING SODA HANDY IT WILL SOMETHER THE FIRE WE KEEP ONE HANDY NEAR THE STOVE wealso when roof is clear we take a chimmybrush and run it though several time to keep the chimmey clear we do this several time during winter
     
  12. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Step #1 Make sure the chinmey is clean BEFORE using.

    But if you fail to follow step #1 then......

    If it's an old masonry chimney or a newer steel one makes a big differance.
    Also it greatly depends on the wood burning appliance. . (stove/fireplace or whatever.)

    Now for whats the same.

    Evacuate the house as soon as a fire is noticed.

    Now for whats different.

    If it's a open system like a fireplace or a non air tight stove.
    If you have a chinmey fire flare then use it quickly. Do try to close off the damper. But don't use water it can cause a steam explosion. If it's a fireplace close the door to the room it's in or at least the outside door when you get out. Then get out and hope for the best. Call the fire Dept. or as we say here the foundation savers.

    If it's a sealed system like an air tight stove.
    First it's hard to tell there is a fire because the lack of draft. So the chimney fires can burn slow. If you see your stove pipe getting cherry red...... Much hotter than it normally would or you see flame comming out the top of the chimney. Then

    Close off all air vents to the fire. If possible place a chimney fire flare into the fire box. Do not put water on or in the stove. Go outside and put water on the roof and try to get water down the top of the chimney and the surrounding area. Have someone call the fire dept. They will come and check that the fire is out. Chimney fires in the new insulated chimneys don't usually mean a lost house but you will have to replace the chimney.

    Remember don't put water on the fire/stove. This can cause steam explosions.
    If you have a wood fire you should have a chimney fire flare. A dry chem. extinguisher will work but with the flare you can get out. not stay and fight the blaze
     
  13. jersey girl

    jersey girl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We keep a supply of Chimfex Chimney fire suppressents on hand. They are like a long tube that you just trun the cap to take it off, and scratch one end with the cap and drop into fire. It shoots stuff up your chimney and puts the fire out. We have had one chimney fire in our years of burning wood. Thankfully we were home and caught it right away. The Chimfex put it out. We now are very sure to clean our stove pipe at least every 30 days and we have a thremometer on our stovepipe that gives the temp and your limits of cresote building and cleaning are marked right on the thermometer.
    The Chimfex is pruchased at an Amish store and the thermometer came from Lehmans hardware in Kidron Ohio (large mail order business).
    You can also buy tubs of powder that you put on your fire monthly to help prevent buildup but I do not know if these work or not.
     
  14. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I would absolutely keep the chimney fire sticks right by the stove. If you don't have one, a fire extinguisher might help, but use the tool meant for the job. Get the chimney sticks. And close the damper immediately.
     
  15. leoaloha

    leoaloha Well-Known Member

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    With all that said, THe best procedure is prevention.

    1) get your chimmney cleaned every 6 months ( this is my insurance company requirement)
    2) Do not burn green wood

    !~
     
  16. Bresias

    Bresias Restless User

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    http://www.northlineexpress.com/detail~PRODUCT_ID~5RU-3412.asp

    You gotta see this. Apparently the factory caught on fire and Chimfex is not available (oh, the irony). Hopefully, they'll be up and running soon . . .
     
  17. kuriakos

    kuriakos Well-Known Member

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    I've never heard that one before, but I like it. In my 11 years as a volunteer firefighter I've helped to save way too many foundations.
     
  18. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again for all the great info. I will be looking into those Chimney flares.