Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What you Should Know about Chimney Fires

The following information is from studies conducted and researched by the Fires, Causes, Effects and Evaluation by the CSIA. A copy of the book may be obtained by calling the CSIA at 317-837-5362. 

These questions often come up when evaluating chimney damages: What is 
chimney fire damage?  And what other possible causes might there be for damages to a flue liner, chimney, smoke chamber, and chimney cover?  The MCSC has put together these guidelines in order to help insurance adjusters, engineers, and chimney inspectors determine the causes for chimney damages. This is very brief outline, and we suggest that a copy of the book named above be obtained if further explanation is needed.

​- Most chimney fires occur without the homeowner’s knowledge—in fact, only very few fires are witnessed or reported to the fire department.

​- When a sudden temperature differential of 500 degrees occurs in a chimney, the clay tile flue liners will crack due to expansion. This differential cannot be obtained by the normal operation of a fireplace or wood stove, and has not been able to be duplicated in field study.  Studies show that a chimney fire is the most likely candidate for the cause of tile liners to break. 

Longitudinal break in tile flue liner Photo: HearthMasters, Inc.
- Tile liners will break longitudinally first, due to the nature of their construction, then horizontal and diagonal cracks will occur in more severe fires. - A NON-creosote chimney fire can occur when flue gasses accumulate in the flue and will ignite when      temperatures reach 1000 degrees. Note: Creosote ignites at 1000 degrees. - Burnt, ash creosote may found in the flue and smoke chamber after a chimney fire.  This is lightweight, expanded creosote that can only be created by a chimney fire.  - Isolated scorched areas of the flue may be present (although not always) and are positive indications of a chimney fire, since accumulating creosote does not avoid particular areas. - Tar glaze may have melted away from the fire. Some creosote may melt and flow away from the combustion zone and may be found in the smoke chamber or damper area, or around the thimble entrance of a stove pipe, or around a chimney cover. - Fires of long duration may cause thermal expansion of the masonry such as the
Longitudinal break in 2' section of  clay tile flue liner after a chimney fire. Note that the break goes all the way  through to the back side. 
cement crown, facial wall, and exterior chimney, which will result in clean breaks in the masonry. - Holes and mortar bond breaks may be found in the smoke chamber area and flue after a chimney fire due to expansion. - The chimney cover may be warped, discolored, or damaged.  Myths regarding tile flue liner damages - Thermal fatigue (p 4-11) (years of expansion and contraction) cracking: no evidence is found to support this idea. - Lightning: (p 4-9) lightning can damage flue liners, but there is usually other damage to the chimney such as blown out bricks at the top of the stack. - Moisture– (page 4-12) Rain entering the chimney from the top of the flue and from condensing flue gasses: Washed-out mortar joints and spalling (flaking) flue liners are caused by moisture. No evidence has been found to support the suggestion that cracked tiles are the result of moisture damages, however, if the chimney was not constructed properly with air space between the flue and surrounding masonry, and water leaked into the chimney between the flue and masonry and froze, it is not inconceivable that the expansion might cause a liner to crack horizontally. - Settlement: (4.3.3) “Settlement is an overly-used diagnosis of distress in masonry structures of all types.” However, it does occur.  Look for inadequate foundation or footing and uneven settling.  Also look for shifted or offset flue tiles, which shows movement. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Wax fireplace log misuse likely cause of apartment complex fire

A chimney fire on December 16, 2016 in Harrisonville, Missouri spread to six buildings and left 27 people homeless.

Firefighters were initially called to building 2205 at Twin Oaks Apartments on the afternoon of the 16th when a tenant had a chimney fire after burning a compressed wax log. The fire department left the scene, and shortly afterwards neighbors noticed smoke coming from the roof, which then erupted in flames. The fire had escaped the chimney and spread to nearby combustible roofing.

The fire spread to five buildings and forced 59 people to flee their homes. It took hours for the fire department to put the fires out. One building was destroyed, and five others were damaged. No statements have been issued regarding the cost of the damages.

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council recommends that all chimneys and fireplaces have regular annual maintenance completed by a professional CSIA Certified chimney sweep. Creosote is highly flammable and when ignited by a spark can create a fire throughout the flue which can spread to the roof or nearby combustible framing.

Directions on compressed logs state that after placing a log on a grate, to light the paper it is enclosed in, and not to poke the log. Poking can cause a flare up or fireball, which can ignite creosote in the flue. The MCSC recommends that people closely follow directions when burning wax logs or an uncontrollable fire can result. The MCSC recommends never burning anything in a fireplace or wood stove other than dry cordwood.

Contact Marge Padgitt, MCSC president at 816-461-3665 for more information.  


Chimney Safety Warning During Arctic Blast

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council issued a warning today to safely operate and maintain wood and gas heating appliances during periods of bitter cold in order to avoid fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

December 29, 2017
Kansas City, Missouri

The National Fire Protection Association statistics indicate that there are 245,000 house fires annually caused by heating equipment such as wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. The Midwest Chimney Safety Council believes that this number is only a fraction of the actual statistics based on findings by chimney sweeps who service chimneys.

The NFPA states that there are 72,000 deaths caused by Carbon Monoxide exposure annually.  
During periods of very cold weather more accidental fires and CO poisoning occur. The Midwest Chimney Safety Council recommends that homeowners take measures to assure the safety of their family by following these recommended guidelines:

  •    Do not use an open fireplace for heating purposes. Fireplaces are decorative appliances to be used for ambience only. Over use of an open fireplace can cause hidden combustibles in the walls or framing around the fireplace to ignite and cause a house fire. This applies to manufactured fireplaces and masonry fireplaces.
  •    Do not leave a wood-burning stove or fireplace unattended.
  •    Do not burn hedge, dry pine, or a Christmas tree in a fireplace or stove. These woods burn very hot and fast, and can cause a chimney fire.
  •    Do not burn treated wood or colored paper in a fireplace or stove. These items create toxic fumes which can cause illness or death.
  •    Don’t burn anything other than dry cordwood or pallet wood in a fireplace or stove.
  •    Have a fireplace inspected and swept annually by a professional CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. Sweeping removes flammable creosote from the smoke chamber and flue liner. Have a wood-burning stove or insert swept twice per year.
  •    Keep the accumulation of flammable creosote down by using a product like Anti-Creosote Spray each time a fire is burned.
  •    Place ashes in an ash bucket and take outside to cool off with the lid on the bucket on a non-combustible surface before disposing of them or putting them in the garden. Ashes and embers can smolder for up to two weeks.
  •    Have furnace, boiler, or water heater flues inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep to assure that the flue is not clogged by nests or debris, is sized correctly, and does not have cracks or voids which can cause Carbon Monoxide backup into the home. Even low levels of CO not detectible by a CO detector can cause illness and permanent brain damage.
  •    Do not ignore a CO detector alarm- CO is colorless, odorless, and tasteless so there is no way a human can detect CO.
  •     Be sure to install new batteries and assure proper operation of smoke detectors. Install at least one smoke detector on each level of the house, including in the attic near the chimney.
·       In case of a chimney fire or CO alarm, get out of the house and call the fire department immediately.

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council is a 13-state regional association which provides educational classes and workshops to chimney and hearth industry professionals and the public.  

Contact Marge Padgitt, President of the MCSC at or 816-461-3665 or contact one of the MCSC members listed on the website for more information. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Last Chance-Register now!

Visit to register now for our best conference yet!

We couldn't do it without you!

*Copperfield Chimney Supply
Cody Gibson

David Guest

*Lindemann Chimney SupplyPete Phagan110 Albrecht DriveLake Bluff, IL  60044
(800) 722-7230
*HearthMasters Masonry SchoolIndependence, MOwww.hearthmasters.net816-461-3665
 *National Chimney Supply 

*Olympia Chimney Supply
Mike Hill

*Magazine for Blue Collar Entrepreneurs
Dave Hannah

Wood-Fired Magazine
1134 S Pearl Street
Independence, MO 64050

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A few seats still available for the conference

Get your registration in now for he MCSC Conference June 21-24, 2017 - we are nearly at full capacity!  Check out all the conference info and register online at

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


MCSC Annual Conference
June 21-14, 2017
Independence, Missouri

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council is pleased to announce that we have added an outstanding class to the conference - OSHA Authorized Person Fall Protection Training: Learn what you need to know about fall protection per OSHA guidelines and when you are finished with this class you will have the ability to be assigned as your Authorized Person per OSHA requirements at your place of business. This training will also be important for Worker's Comp insurance. ​Instructor: Mark Damon from Ellis Fall Protection.
Here is the complete lineup of classes, classroom presentations for two days, then workshops for two days:
Over the Top Service Equals Sales: .Quality service is what everyone expects. No one needs your service or anything you sell. In today's world, it's all about me world, over the top service is how a company grows . One simple mistake and a homeowner lets the world know before you make it out of the driveway. By providing quality service second to none and going beyond expectations will put you ahead any other company. From a one person company to a multi million dollar company simple easy touches add up to easy sales. This seminar will cover the basic ways that we have found to work which have given us a complaint free history and yearly growth. Instructor:Victor Imgarten, Clean Sweep Chimney Service, Ex-President of the NCSG and CSIA.
Course #6067 Business 1, C&L 1 CEU's CSIA
Bio: Victor is a Missouri native and has been in the chimney industry for close to 40 years.He is an ex-president of the NCSG. Growing up in a home surrounded by business owners from his Grandparents and a father quality service was always a way of life. He attended Washington University and other collages as well as many years of continuing training in the field of business, sales and customer relations. He have served on all industry related boards in some capacity. Currently he still enjoys field work and the challenges of meeting new and existing costumers demands, for over the top service.Quality service is what everyone expects.
If you’re not Selling, You’re Being Outsold: with Chuck Hall (CSIA President). This class will cover methods to properly set up the sale with your client, and techniques to use during the sales process. Chuck will also discuss sales from the perspective as the owner with technicians and salespeople in his employ. Course Number 6044 C&L 1 CEU Business 1.5 CEUs from CSIA
Bio: Chuck was born in Washington, DC and graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA in Advertising and Communications. He sold advertising time for a DC radio station for 2 years after college. Chuck started a home service business that included a chimney service 2 years later. Today in year 28, Winston's Chimney Service specializes in fireplaces and chimneys only; both residential and commercial. The company ran 11 trucks last fall and employed 29 people. They have one technician/salesperson who sold $1 million worth of services in 2016 and another person sold just below $700 k. We grossed $3.3 million in sales last year and plan to hit $4 million in 2017. Chuck has been married for 25 years and has a 21 year old daughter and an 18 year old son.

Lessons Learned From Fire Investigations: Find out what the most common mistakes are that chimney inspectors, builders, or contractors make that have caused structural fires and learn what to look for during inspections. See actual photos of house fires and how the cause was identified. Find out what the procedures are for fire investigations. Learn what not to do when building or rebuilding a chimney, or installing hearth appliances, and what to watch out for with other tradespeople. Instructor: Marge Padgitt, Padgitt Forensic Investigations Course number 6069 C&L 1.5 CEUs from CSIA
Bio: Marge and her husband, Gene, have been married for 30 years, and have worked together in the chimney business for 32 years. Marge is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Woodburning Specialist and trainer. Marge wrote the book The Chimney and Hearth Pro's Resource Book and the CD Presentation set Presentations for Chimney Professionals. has two more books and instructional films in the works. She has served on the board of directors for the National Chimney Sweep Guild, Masonry Heater Association of North America, the Midwest HPBA, and the Midwest Chimney Safety Council. She is a founding member of the MCSC.

Introduction to Masonry Heaters: Find out what masonry heaters are, how they work, and how to do maintenance on heaters.These are special appliances that are completely different than any other type of wood-burning heating appliance. Instructor: Gary Hart, Certified Heater Mason, Aaron’s Ltd Course number 6071 Technical 1.5 CEU's CSIA
Bio: Gary began a chimney sweeping business in 1979 and has since become a mason, masonry heater builder, and wood/gas stove store owner. While pursuing a living in the solid fuel industry for 35 years, Gary received certifications through ISO and WHERF, Certification #1348 through CSIA/NCSG and Certification #10 through the Masonry Heater Association.In the early 1990s, Gary was involved with developing a description of Masonry Heaters for submission to the ASTM standards and helped review a certification Program for Masonry Heater Builders. He was involved with developing an advanced certification for chimney sweeps through the CSIA/NCSG.As a Certified Masonry Heater Builder, he has built masonry heaters in New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri and Japan. He currently holds the distinction of being the 1st Platinum Member with the Masonry Heater Association of North America.
The Labor Problem, Recruiting and Retaining Great People: Instructor: Jake Cromwell, Top Hat Chimney & Roofing
​How to Apply Stucco and Plaster: These skills are needed when doing masonry or manufactured chimney restoration. Students will prep walls, install wire mesh, install a scratch coat and final coat of stucco, and learn how to plaster interior walls. Get practice using these methods hands-on. Bring your masonry tools. Instructor: Gene Padgitt, HearthMasters Masonry School.
​ 4 Elective CEU's from NFI Course number 6063 Technical 4 CEUs from CSIA
​Bio: Gene has worked in the chimney industry for 35 years. He is an award-winning master mason, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, NFI Certified Gas Specialist, Licensed Mechanical Contractor, Certified Heater Mason, State Certified Fire Investigator, and has a degree in HVACR.Technology. Gene has taught numerous classes in the industry. Gene is an expert mason so you'll be learning from one of the best.
How to Build Chase Tops: Learn how to use a break to form a perfect chase top and flashing on the job to save time and money. These skills will improve your bottom line! Instructors: Michael Matthews and David Steward
How to Build a Cricket: Hands-on practice building a chimney cricket. A "must know" for chimney contractors. Crickets are required for all chimneys measuring 30" wide and are built on the back side of the chimney on the high side of the roof. In the field, crickets are often too short or missing altogether. This can cause rain water to destroy masonry and wood on the back side of the chimney and cause leaking on the interior of the home. If you're going to be a "We Fix Leaky Chimneys" company, this class is a "must do." Instructor:Gregg Boss, English Sweep. Greg is the Region 4 Director for the National Chimney Sweep Guild.
​​Chimney Sweeping Methods and Equipment: Learn how to sweep a chimney to remove creosote, find out what different types of equipment are available, and watch a chimney inspection using the Chim Scan camera system. Janie Rickord, Alpine Chimney Service and Tom Urban with Estoban Corp. and Chim-Scan
Creating a Thorough Inspection Program: Instructor, Tom Urban, Estoban Corporation. Class #6078 Codes and Standards .75, C&L .75 from CSIA
Chimney Diagnosis and Documentation: An in-depth class with Tom Urban, Estoban Corporation. Tom is the inventor of the Chim-Scan camera system. 
OSHA Authorized Person Fall Protection Training: Be OSHA Compliant and learn all about fall protection methods! This is a four -hour class with CEUs!
CEUs pending for several classes but we are attempting to get CEUs from CSIA, NFI,
and MHA for all classes. 
And be sure to visit vendor tables the first two days!
And some FUN events:
Wednesday Night: Join us for outdoor Barbecue for dinner!
​Thursday Night: Bowling and Bililards Night at Diamond Bowl! Come join us for some fun and comradarie!
Saturday Night Pizza party and Auction! 
Don’t miss great deals at the auction and fantastic pizza (included in your registration fee) Please bring a donation to the auction - even if it isn't chimney related! With our REAL auctioneer - Steve Hoover!

Please contact Marge at 816-461-3665 or
THANK YOU to Olympia Chimney Supply for sponsoring our Pizza party on Saturday night and donating a liner kit!
THANK YOU to Copperfield Chimney Supply for donating a liner kit!

Thanks to HearthMasters for sponsoring the barbecue!
MORE sponsor donations coming!

VISIT Midwest Chimney Safety Council FOR MORE INFO AND TO REGISTER

Marge Padgitt
President, Midwest Chimney Safety Council
PO Box 1166, Independence, MO 64051
Ph 816-461-3665 Fax 816-461-2818

Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 9 through 15 is National Fire Prevention Week

National Fire Prevention Week, sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, was created in order to reduce fires. The Midwest Chimney Safety Council suggests fire prevention by promoting the sweeping and inspection of chimneys.

Chimney fire leads to house fire. Photo
The Midwest Chimney Safety Council advises homeowners and building owners to have chimneys inspected by a professional chimney sweep on a regular basis- at least once per year as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Professional chimney sweeps have the proper equipment to view the interior of chimneys in order to see potential hazards such as missing mortar joints, broken flue tiles, or large gaps which can allow toxic flue gasses and heat to escape into the home.

Professional chimney sweeps are trained to identify problems that the layman may miss.
Chimney sweeps also remove flammable creosote, debris, nests, leaves, and twigs from flues serving furnaces, water heaters, boilers, fireplaces, and gas and wood-burning heating appliances.

The history of chimney sweeps began before Roman times when people started to build fireplaces inside their homes for heating and cooking. Prior to the invention of the chimney the soot and smoke just vented out open windows, but chimneys solved that problem. 

The chimney sweeping trade died down after gas and electricity were introduced. However, during the oil crisis in the 1970’s homeowners wanted an alternative method of heating, and wood stoves were introduced in answer to the demand. As a result, the number of chimney fires increased and people became aware that their chimneys needed to be serviced by a professional. Chimney sweeps were once again needed across the country, and the trade revived.

Today professional chimney sweeps get their training and Certification at the Chimney Safety Institute of America, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and get continuing education classes at the CSIA, Midwest Chimney Safety Council, and other related organizations. They use state-of-the art chimney camera equipment for inspections.

Some jurisdictions require chimney sweeps to be CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps, or licensed in another manner.
A list of qualified professional chimney sweeps is posted at the Midwest Chimney Safety Council website at

Contact: Marge Padgitt, President of the MCSC at 816-461-3665 or for more information.