Talking About Crawlspace Repairs

Chimney Cleaning: Prevent and Remove Creosote Buildup

by Clinton Stone

The toasty comfort of a blazing fireplace can make for an amazing family focus on chilly nights, but can also pose a serious health hazard. Neglected fireplaces and chimneys are a major cause of house fires, so it is important to keep these areas clean and safe.

Most fires originating from the chimney are a result of creosote buildup. This article seeks to shed light on how creosote can pose a risk in your chimney and how to know that it is time to schedule a chimney cleanup.

What is creosote?

Creosote refers to unburned wood energy that accumulates on the inner walls of your chimney. When your fireplace is burning fuel efficiently, it produces ashes that indicate the wood has completely burned out. However, there are tiny remnants of the fuel that do not burn completely, and those are carried up the chimney with the smoke and soot.

With time, these particles, which are known as creosote, will eventually solidify into a thick mass inside the chimney walls, forming a ready fuel source. Rising flames and sparks from the fireplace below can then easily ignite the creosote coating, leading to a disastrous house fire.

Preventing creosote buildup

To prevent the buildup of creosote, always operate your fireplace or wood stove effectively to avoid stifling the fire. You can do this by using plenty of small logs that build vigorous fires that produce less soot and creosote instead of burning large logs that often burn partially, building smoldering fires with a lot of smoke. You should also avoid burning wet wood or scrap lumber and trash, as such fuel sources are notorious for producing lots of smoke.

Signs of creosote buildup

Regular chimney sweeps are an effective way of removing the inevitable buildup of soot and creosote in your chimney. Unfortunately, it is very hard to keep your chimney creosote-free, and there is no simple thumb rule on when to schedule a cleaning. The best thing to do is to look out for the signs of creosote buildup that could indicate it is time to call in chimney contractors for a cleaning.

Dark smoke constantly flowing from your chimney, smoke flooding into the house or soot on your furniture are all clear signs that creosote levels in your chimney may be dangerously high. Ridges, bubbly surfaces or thick scale-like buildup inside the chimney may also indicate creosote issues. If you notice any such signs, call in a chimney cleaning service like Thomas Chimney Sweep to thoroughly inspect and clean out the chimney and fireplace.