Chimney fires are one of the leading causes of house fires in the United States. In fact, there are an estimated 22,300 chimney fires in the country each year. Fortunately for Columbus homeowners, The Chimney Guys are working hard to lower this number and keep the communities we serve safer.

With over 40 years of industry experience in chimney care and maintenance, the experts at The Chimney Guys know the things you can do to lower your risk of chimney fires. Here are three of the biggest causes of chimney fires – and what you can do to avoid an unwanted fire of your own.

The 3 Biggest Causes of Chimney Fires

What are the main culprits behind the start of chimney fires?


black, tarry creosote in a pipeThe most common cause of chimney fires is creosote buildup. Creosote is a chemical byproduct of burning wood. As your fire burns, harmful fumes are released with the smoke which travels into your chimney flue and condenses on the lining of your chimney – forming what we call creosote. And the more inefficient your fire runs, the more creosote will be form and collect.

The reason creosote is dangerous is because it is highly combustible. It is considered highly dangerous after only an eighth inch of buildup on the lining of your chimney walls. Creosote will catch fire at 451 degrees fahrenheit. Because your fireplace fires can easily burn at a higher temperature than that, creosote becomes very dangerous very quickly.

The truth is that, over time, creosote will build up no matter how efficiently you burn. Creosote is a natural byproduct of burning. The good news is, you can slow the buildup of creosote in a few different ways.

  • Burn only seasoned wood. The wood you choose to burn is the main contributor to creosote buildup. You are looking for wood that has been dried for at least six months to a year. Burning wet or green wood leads to inefficient fires, higher smoke output, and more creosote. 
  • Make sure you have good airflow going up and out of your chimney. Because creosote forms as smoke lingers and condenses, the more quickly it can move up and out of your chimney, the less likely creosote will have time to form inside.
  • Have your chimney inspected and swept at least once a year. Because creosote cannot be stopped completely, having your chimney professionally serviced is the only way to keep creosote from building up. This is where we at The Chimney Guys are your biggest ally. Our team is fully equipped and trained to keep your chimney ready for use, running efficiently, and free of creosote.


Another common cause of chimney fires is debris buildup inside your flue. Leaves and sticks are apt to find their way into your chimney just as they would your gutters. This debris can build up and block airflow out of your chimney. Along with this, as the debris dries out it becomes flammable, turning your chimney into a tinderbox ready to ignite.

Fortunately it is easy to prevent debris build up in your chimney. A chimney cap is a feature that, when sized and installed correctly, will keep unwanted things out of your chimney – while still allowing air to flow as it should. 

The Chimney Guys are your experts in fitting and installing chimney caps. Not only will a chimney cap prevent debris from entering your chimney, it will also prevent another fire hazard, as well…


photo of flames and black smoke coming from a roofWhen squirrels, birds, and rodents are shopping for homes, your chimney is likely to be a great option. It is warm, protected from wind, and dry. If they are able to get inside, they will build their nests and create blockages that can lead to chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. 

A chimney cap is the best way to keep animals out of your chimney. As with unwanted debris, a properly fitted and installed chimney cap will allow air flow out while keeping debris and animals away. The Chimney Guys have the experience and knowledge necessary to provide you with a durable, properly-fitted, and long-lasting chimney cap. It is one of the most important pieces to have to lower the risk of chimney malfunctions.

Book Your Inspection With Us

The best way to lower the risk of a chimney fire is to schedule yearly inspections and chimney sweepings. The professionals at The Chimney Guys will be able to spot anything that could be putting your home at risk.

If you do experience a chimney fire, it’s important to take immediate action. Call the fire department right away, and evacuate your home. Do not attempt to put out the fire yourself, as it can be extremely dangerous. After everyone is safe, the fire department has been called, and the fire is put out, make sure to have your chimney inspected to assess for any damage and make necessary repairs prior to the next use.

Reach Out Today for Peace of Mind

Call the Chimney Guys today to have your chimney inspected and swept. We can help you enjoy your fireplace with ease and the peace of mind you deserve. Reach out at 614-446-1221 or book with us online today.