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Why Are Sparks Coming Out of My Chimney? Pro Guide

Picture this: you’re chilling by a warm fireplace, all cozy and comfortable. But, uh-oh, little sparks start floating out of your chimney. Not the relaxing scene you had in mind, right? If you’ve ever wondered, “Why are Sparks Coming out of My Chimney?” – well, you’re in the right spot.

To put it simply, sparks from your chimney can happen because you’re burning wood that isn’t totally dry, there’s a buildup of something called creosote, or there’s something blocking your chimney.

In this blog, we’re going to take a close look at why sparks happen, figure out if it’s normal, and explore what you can do about it.

Is It Okay for Sparks to Come Out of the Chimney? 

Sparks from the chimney can be fine when you’re using a fireplace, especially with certain types of wood. However, if you notice too many sparks or big embers coming out of the chimney, it might mean there’s a problem that needs fixing.

Why Does It Matter If Sparks Come Out of the Chimney?

Some people believe chimneys are meant to keep fires contained, but that’s not true. They’re designed to hold smoke, not fire. If a fire occurs, the tile inside the chimney can break in just a few minutes, even if it’s not very hot. This can allow the fire to spread to your attic, walls, and other flammable things in your home.

What about stainless steel? Well, these liners are tested to handle heat up to 2100℉, but flue fires can burn as hot as 3000℉. This causes the steel to change shape and bend, allowing heat and fire to spread in your home.

Think it won’t happen to you? Every year, over 25,000 chimney fires in the United States cause about $125 million in property damage. Apart from the financial loss, these fires also lead to the tragic loss of lives. Several hundred people die each year in house fires, most of which are “confined fires” like chimneys, flues, or flue burners.

The good news is that most chimney fires can be prevented before they even occur.

So, Why Are Sparks Coming Out of My Chimney? 

Why Are Sparks Coming Out of My Chimney? Pro Guide

If you see sparks coming out of the chimney and it scares you, especially if you don’t know why it’s happening, don’t fret! You’re not alone. Many homeowners face this, and usually, it’s not a big concern. However, it’s important to find out why it’s happening and take the necessary steps to fix it.

There might be a few reasons behind those fiery specks:

Burning Wet Wood

Using wood that is damp or not properly dried can create too much smoke and sparks in the fireplace. It’s essential to ensure the wood is fully dry before you burn it.

Creosote Buildup

A common reason for sparks is something called creosote buildup. Creosote is like a sticky tar that forms in your chimney when you burn wood. Over time, it can accumulate and create a dangerous layer that can easily catch fire from hot embers. When that happens, you might see small sparks coming out of the chimney.

Animal Nests

Animals like birds and squirrels sometimes make homes in chimneys. Their nests can block the flue and trap things that can catch fire, such as leaves and twigs. When you light a fire, these things can catch fire and cause sparks.

Blocked Chimney

If the chimney is blocked, air and smoke can’t move properly, and they might come back into the fireplace. This can also cause sparks and embers to shoot out of the chimney. Things like leaves, twigs, or even fallen bricks could be causing the blockage.

Visit our informative blog to learn what happens if you don’t clean your chimney.

Is it a Chimney Fire?

Even if sparks come from your chimney, it doesn’t always mean there’s a big chimney fire, but it’s important to be cautious.

Look out for other signs like:

  • Big flames or embers: If you see large flames or glowing embers shooting out of the chimney, it’s a clear sign of a chimney fire.
  • Dark smoke: Thick, black smoke pouring from the chimney is another warning sign.
  • Crackling or roaring sound: A loud crackling or roaring noise from the chimney could mean the fire is burning creosote buildup.

In addition, you can visit our insightful blog to find out the answer to the question, “Does cleaning air ducts help with allergies?

How Can You Identify If Sparks Are Coming Out of Your Chimney?

How Can You Identify If Sparks Are Coming Out of Your Chimney

There are a few ways to find out if sparks are coming from your chimney. You can use your eyes and ears or get help from professionals to make sure everything is safe.

Here are some ways to tell if there are sparks from your chimney:

  • Look Outside: Check the outside of your chimney by looking at it from the ground. You can use binoculars for a closer look. Sparks might be small and hard to see, but if you notice flames, call the fire department right away because that could mean a serious fire.
  • Look Inside: Use a flashlight to check inside your chimney. First, make sure the fireplace is completely out and cool. Then, open the damper and shine the light up the chimney. If you see sparks, it’s a sign that you need to take action immediately.
  • Listen for Sounds: Pay attention to any sounds coming from your chimney. If you hear hissing, crackling, or popping, it could mean there’s something that might catch fire. It’s crucial to have your chimney inspected and cleaned soon if you notice these sounds.

What Are the Recommendations If You See Sparks?

So, how to stop sparks from chimneys? If you notice sparks from your chimney, here’s what you should do:

  • Stop using the fireplace right away. This prevents the fire from spreading and allows the burning materials to cool down.
  • Call a chimney sweep. Get a professional chimney sweep to check your chimney. They can clean out any creosote or blockages and ensure your chimney is safe to use.
  • Consider getting a chimney cap. A chimney cap can prevent animals from making homes inside and keep out rain and snow, which can worsen creosote buildup.
  • Make sure to clean your chimney regularly to remove creosote and debris. This helps reduce the chances of sparks occurring.
  • Install a Spark Arrestor. Consider putting a spark arrestor on your chimney’s top. It keeps sparks inside so they don’t fly away.
  • Periodically check your chimney to see if anything is blocking it. A clear chimney promotes better airflow.

Way to Prevent Sparks in the Future

 

To make sure you don’t see sparks in the future, follow these tips:

  • Have someone check and clean your chimney regularly. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends checking and cleaning your chimney once a year, especially if you use your fireplace a lot.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Using wood that’s not completely dry creates more creosote. It’s better to use wood that’s fully dried out. Avoid burning things like clothes, furniture, or anything that’s not firewood because they make too much smoke.
  • Pick woods like maple, poplar, and oak to burn. They make less smoke compared to softer woods like fir, pine, or redwood.
  • Use the right-sized logs. If the logs are too big, they make too much heat and add to the creosote problem.
  • Open the damper all the way when using the fireplace. This ensures that air flows correctly and helps stop smoke and embers from going back into the chimney.

Contact a Pro

For excellent chimney cleaning services in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, choose H&H Services. We’re available 24/7 for emergencies, offer free inspections, and provide same-day service. With an impressive 4.9 rating from over 769 reviews, we are a reliable contractor for chimney cleaning, air duct cleaning, drywall repair/installation, and painting.

Licensed and insured, we guarantee satisfaction with clear pricing for all your chimney needs. We specialize in chimney repairs and rebuilds, drawing on decades of experience to address masonry issues. Regular chimney cleaning by our skilled technicians —

  • lowers the risk of fires, 
  • improves safety, 
  • and better indoor air quality.

To check if your fireplace chimney needs cleaning, run a fireplace poker down the inner liner. If there’s more than 1/8 inch of buildup, contact a chimney sweep promptly. For professional chimney cleaning and dependable services, contact us at (215) 434-7435 or book a free estimate online.

Wrapping Up

In short, knowing the reasons behind the question, “Why are Sparks Coming out of My Chimney?” is important to keep your fireplace safe and enjoyable. Whether it’s due to wet wood, creosote, or blockages, regular cleaning, using dry wood, and adding spark arrestors can make a big difference. Always remember that a well-maintained chimney not only keeps you safe but also makes your home feel warm and cozy.

FAQs

Is it normal for embers to come out of the chimney?

Yes, a few embers coming out of the chimney are okay, but too many might signal problems.

Is it normal for soot to come out of the chimney?

A small amount of soot is normal, but excessive soot indicates incomplete combustion and needs inspection. Consider having your chimney swept.

What does chimney soot look like?

Chimney soot looks like a fine, black, or dark brown powder. It can also appear flaky or oily, depending on the severity of the buildup.

What are the ash flakes coming out of my chimney?

Those ash flakes are likely creosote, a tar byproduct of burning. It’s a fire hazard and warrants a chimney sweep inspection.

Can I put out a chimney fire myself? 

Attempting to extinguish a chimney fire yourself is not recommended. Call professionals immediately.

How often should I have my chimney inspected and cleaned? 

Yearly inspections are recommended, especially before the burning season. Sweeping depends on usage – a CSIA sweep can advise.

Are there any chimney accessories that can help prevent sparks? 

A properly installed chimney cap prevents debris from entering and sparks from exiting. Look for a CSIA-listed cap.

How can I find a qualified chimney sweep? 

Look for sweeps certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). They’ll ensure proper inspection and cleaning.

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