The fireplace in many homes is the center of attention during a cold winter’s night, but ignored the rest of the year. This is unfortunate, because they can be very dangerous if not maintained properly. Heavily caked creosote can catch on fire in the chimney. Temperatures in a chimney fire can reach up to 5,00 degrees. At these temperatures the mortar between flue tiles can melt and allow the fire to spread to the rest of the home. The entire home could be lost in a matter of minutes. Regular cleaning of the chimney is highly recommended. The following is a chart suggested by the a local Fire Marshal.


Green/Wet Wood
Seasoned Wood
OAK 1-2 yr
6 mo.-1 yr
HICKORY/ELM 1-2 yr *Unsafe to burn
MESQUITE 1-2 yr 6 mo.-1 yr
BOISE D’ARC 1 yr Unsafe to burn
YELLOW/WHITE PINE/COAL Unsafe to burn Unsafe to burn


Green/Wet Wood Seasoned Wood
OAK 3-4 yr 1-2 yr
HICKORY/ELM 2-3 yr Unsafe to burn
BOISE D’ARC 2-3 yr 1-2 yr
YELLOW/WHITE PINE/COAL 1-2 yr Unsafe to burn



The mortar cap, at the top of a masonry chimney, tends to crack and allow water to enter between the bricks or stone and mortar. If left in this condition for an extended period of time, mortar between the bricks at the interior firebox will become loose. In some instances, it may be necessary to restack the entire fireplace if the damage is severe.

This cap should be inspected at least once a year for damage. If cracks are found, simply seal them with mortar.

Updated: November 8, 2017 — 6:39 am

The Author

Mike Martin, Dallas home inspector

ASHI Certified Real Estate Inspector, focused on home inspections in the North Dallas communities of McKinney, Plano, Park Cities and Frisco TX. Mike earned his license as a TREC-certified Professional Real Estate Inspector — the highest designation available right out of training. He joined Advanced Inspection Service in October 2013. Mike is also a Certified Swimming Pool Inspector and Certified Termite Inspector - See more at:
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