Chimney Fire Safety Tips

As we're heading into the cooler months, It's a beautiful opportunity to talk about fireplace safety. We know that it's gratifying to sit around the woodstove or fireplace on a cold evening and enjoy the warmth and crackle of a friendly fire. In fact, Vermonters burn more wood per capita than almost any other state! We love a good cozy fire in the Green Mountain state! We just need to all make sure that we have them safely. 

Chimney fires are one of the most common fire-related claims that we see in Vermont at the Kinney Insurance Agency. Typically at our Agency, they are most common at the start of the season and the end of the winter season. I can't tell you how many times we've had a fire related to either an uncleaned chimney during its first fire of the year OR the last fire of the year during an unusually cool spring day. It's important to shake the mindset of "it's one quick fire. It will be ok" because that's all it takes to put your home and family at risk. You must take the time to make sure your wood-burning devices are tuned up and ready for the year first. More on that below!

When it comes to home insurance, 33% of all household claims are fire-related, and fire-related claims often have the highest claim payouts. This is one of the reasons why insurance companies sometimes surcharge for homes with woodstoves and usually ask a lot of additional questions if you have a wood-burning device in your house. Sometimes they may even require an internal inspection of that device to make sure it has been properly installed. 

Thankfully with a couple of simple steps, you can reduce your chances of having a chimney fire:

  1. First, make sure that your chimney has been inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. Creosote buildup is one of the reasons why that a chimney catches on fire, and if you're cleaning that out annually, it's going to reduce the amount of creosote in the chimney and your risk of fire. It also never hurts to have a professional make sure there are no cracks or issues that may have developed in the past year.  
  2. Second, make sure you're only using dry seasoned firewood. Again, this is going to reduce the chances of creosote buildup, and it's also going to give you a more efficient burn in your wood stove or fireplace. Win-Win! 
  3. Lastly, it should go without saying, but please make sure that you have had your wood-burning devices installed by certified professionals. This is not the time for a DIY job… there is far too much on the line with your family's safety. 

So before you start burning this winter and the weather starts cooling off, make sure that you've had your chimney cleaned and inspected. Put yourself on an annual schedule to have that chimney cleaned. That way, you can stay warm during the cooler months for many years to come without having to worry about a potential fire.