Although your fireplace is one of the most useful parts of your home, it can also be a safety hazard, especially if it’s not maintained properly. For this reason, you must schedule an annual chimney inspection to keep you and members of your household safe from threats like pyrolysis.
You may not instantly spot pyrolysis like you can with other chimney issues. If you’ve never heard of pyrolysis, don’t worry. We will explain what you need to know about pyrolysis.
What Is Pyrolysis?
Pyrolysis occurs when organic materials, such as wood, are exposed to high heat levels over an extended period. When wood decomposes due to pyrolysis, a fire can start with exposure to nothing more than heat and oxygen. Wood can be ignited once it reaches 200 degrees without even coming in contact with flames while healthy wood will not combust until it reaches at least 400 degrees.
Typically, wood that has been affected by pyrolysis shows no visible signs that the process has occurred. As such, the decomposition of the wood can take time, with the ignition point of the wood being significantly reduced. Without any warning, a fire in a fireplace or wood stove can cause the nearby wood to suddenly ignite.
What Are the Causes of Pyrolysis?
Two main causes increase the risk of pyrolysis:
- Improper installation: Your heating appliances should always be installed by chimney experts. If it’s not properly installed, the appliance may not be code-compliant. Should wood framing in your home be too close to your chimney flue, stove or fireplace, pyrolysis may occur and create a safety hazard. A chimney professional would follow the proper safety codes and install the necessary safety accessories.
- Damaged chimney liners: A cracked fireplace or chimney liners can be another risk for pyrolysis. The temperature in a chimney can reach up to ,1200 degrees. If the heat can escape inside your home, it can cause the neighboring wood to quickly undergo pyrolysis. It can only take four days for a 1/8-inch-thick fiberboard to be chemically decomposed by a wood stove and spontaneously ignite at over 200 degrees. If you notice any cracks on your chimney liners, be sure to call your local chimney company for a chimney relining.
How Can You Prevent Pyrolysis?
The best way to avoid pyrolysis is by performing an annual chimney inspection. Your local chimney expert will be able to examine if your heating appliances are properly installed and meet all the safety codes. The team will also thoroughly check your chimney for any signs of cracks or damage. If there are, they will be able to repair or replace it as soon as possible.
Are you looking for chimney professionals to help you maintain your fireplace and chimney? Get in touch with Chimney Doctors. We offer quality chimney sweep services and more. Call us today at (518) 882-5009, or fill out our contact form to set an appointment. We also proudly serve homeowners in Clifton Park, NY.