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 If so, it could mean potential danger for your tenants, and liability for you.

If your rental has a wood-burning fireplace or stove, it is crucial to keep your chimneys clean and free of soot and creosote that can spark a chimney fire.

Creosote is a thick, slimy substance that comes into existence from the distillation of burning wood. It solidifies as it cools, and adheres itself to the inside of your chimney. This creosote builds up over time and can eventually clog the interior of your chimney.

Even if soot has not built up to the point of clogging a chimney, and still represents a serious fire danger.

With the advent of slow-burning, efficient stoves, the production of soot and creosote in many chimneys has increased in recent years, since the wood burns cooler, creating more lingering smoke and build up in the chimney.

It is especially flammable if the merry-makers in your rental build a roaring fire. If the temperature builds up to a high enough level, the creosote ignites, causing a chimney fire.

The heat of a chimney fire can break through any weakened masonry or flue pipe joints and from there enter the rest of the structure.

Chimney fires are especially disastrous, since they are behind the walls and inhabitants often have no idea the structure is burning until it is too late.

But not to worry — there is an easy solution.

Have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly (at least annually) by a qualified professional “chimney sweep”. A chimney sweep is a licensed contractor who will not only clean your chimney, but they are also knowledgeable about inspection your entire wood-burning system and making any necessary repairs.

Don’t forget to confirm that your chimney sweep is licensed and has the proper insurance before letting him climb around on your roof.

Some creative chimney sweeps will even show up at your doorstep in a black hat and trench coat à la Dickens.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for all your property management needs. Find out more at

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