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Minimizing Creosote Buildup in Your Chimney


Advanced stages of creosote buildup are very dangerous and should be taken care of immediately to avoid a chimney fire.

Creosote  is the substance which is deposited in the chimney whenever a fire is burned, though some fires result in more creosote deposits than others, and is an unavoidable part of using a fireplace. Creosote is black, sooty, and tar-like; and it is dangerous enough that minimizing the amount of creosote in your chimney is an important safety consideration. If too much creosote builds up in your chimney, there is a much greater possibility of a chimney fire, which is extremely dangerous and often leads to deadly house fires.


Increasingly Dangerous Stages of Creosote

Creosote is found in three forms, all of which are dangerous. When creosote is not cleaned out from the flue, it becomes more and more difficult to remove; in some cases it becomes necessary to replace the flue altogether because of stage three deposits.

  1. Creosote in the first stage is flaky and sooty; it is by far the easiest to clean. All that is required is a basic chimney brush.
  2. In the second stage, creosote looks like hard, shiny, black flakes which is hardened tar. It is much more difficult to remove stage two creosote. What chimney professionals use the majority of the time is a rotary loop, which removes the stubborn creosote with metal rods turned by a powerful drill.
  3. Stage three creosote is a fuel that is highly concentrated and looks like the inside of the chimney has tar dripping down. This glazed form of creosote typically thickens as it is continually coated with additional layers. A hot fire burning in the fireplace can easily ignite this hazardous substance, causing a dangerous chimney fire. Chemical removers can be used to remove stage three creosote. A rotary head can be used, but it is a controversial procedure, since any previously compromised flue tiles will often break or fall out and the chimney company is usually blamed for the damage. Having to replace the chimney liner because of stage three creosote is not at all unusual.

Tips for Minimizing Creosote

The following information can help you figure out what steps to take in order to slow down the buildup of creosote in your chimney:

  • Green Firewood

    It’s best to let firewood dry so that all of the green coloring disappears before you use it to fuel a fire.

    Burn seasoned firewood only. A great deal of creosote deposits are made in a chimney when fresh cut, unseasoned firewood is burned because the fire burns out the moisture in the log instead of providing an adequate amount of heat for a clean burn.

  • Burn hot fires that consume combustion by-products. If you have a slow, smoldering fire, the combustion materials go up the chimney and onto the lining.
  • Avoid burning artificial logs in your wood stove or fireplace because they leave heavy creosote deposits.
  • Make sure your fires have an adequate amount of air, which is often a problem on appliances with glass doors, since air flow is restricted.
  • If the air in a chimney column is cold, the heat from a fire can’t rise the way it’s supposed to. What many people do is create a torch and hold it up through the damper so that the flue is sufficiently warmed to allow smoke and other combustion materials to escape up and out of the chimney instead of going into the house or onto the flue lining.

How long has it been since you have had your chimney inspected? Contact our chimney professionals today for a chimney cleaning, which includes removal of dangerous creosote deposits.

Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110
Phone: 860-233-5770

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