Chimney Fires – Why Chimneys Catch Fire

A chimney is basically an architectural chimney system designed of metal, masonry or clay that encloses hot burning embers or smoke from a stove, boiler, furnace, outdoor fireplace or other fireplace and eliminates dangerous exhaust fumes or smoke from human living spaces. The chimney has a purpose to serve the purpose for which it was built i.e. to serve as a vent for the smoke or exhaust from a stove. It should be constructed in such a way that it allows the free flow of air within the building envelope and at the same time not allowing exhaust fumes to escape.


The typical chimney is made from clay, concrete or brick material, but modern day masonry cowls are usually made from insulated polystyrene (IP), thermoplastic rubber (TSP), sheet metal or stainless steel. Chimney caps are added on the top of a chimney to act as a chimney liner. A chimney cap is also sometimes necessary to increase the venturi efficiency of a chimney. The venturi efficiency is increased due to the increased cross-section of the chimney at the point where the chimney cap is fitted, and hence better draft.


The most common mistakes made in chimney fires are lack of protection against flying debris, and not enough ventilation. Chimney fires can start from any sort of fuel – wood, paper, or oil – and cause severe damage to properties and lives if not properly handled and controlled. Prevention of chimney fires can be done by having proper flue maintenance, regular cleaning and by making sure that the right materials are used for the construction of the chimney fire doors and chimney caps. Proper insulation of the chimney flue should be sufficient to ensure that the house is safe from smoke inhalation; all chimney liners and doors should have the required type of insulation so as to ensure adequate heat transfer and combustion in winter cooling in summer. A chimney fire door is essential if you want to protect your house and family from smoke inhalation. Even the smallest crack can prove to be disastrous.