What is sticky, highly flammable, and makes your chimney jet-black? Creosote. This may be an unfamiliar term for many homeowners, but you will soon learn that creosote is merely a more severe form of soot. However, this fancy-sounding substance should not be taken lightly because once it accumulates in your chimney, a cascade of catastrophic events could occur.
How It Builds Up
The formation of creosote is inevitable in any chimney with an active fireplace. Specifically, when you burn unseasoned wood, more creosote is produced. Restricted airflow in your chimney can also cause major creosote production. What these two factors have in common is that they both foster incomplete combustion and condensation. The moisture produced mixes with the smoke and all the byproducts of burning and it sticks to the walls in the form of undesired black creosote.
When you first start to use the fireplace, tiny black flakes of soot will stick to the chimney walls. This is where the creosote level should be maintained because at this point the chimney sweep can still remove it with a brush with ease. This is one of the main purposes of having an annual chimney sweeping and inspection.
If you fail to have those flakes removed it will eventually cover the wall entirely and a thin hard sheet of creosote will coat your flue. When you finally call in a chimney sweep, they will have to use more equipment such as specialized video cameras to investigate the extent of damage. The regular chimney brush won’t be able to handle this stage anymore; a heavy-duty brush will be needed.
The third stage is already glazed creosote – very thick, shiny and black, hard to remove, and dangerous. It’s highly flammable so the last thing you want to do is to try and clean it out yourself. Let the trained professionals from Mason’s Chimney Service & Certified Air Duct Cleaning Inc. do it for you in order to avoid any accidents. They will be scraping off layers of creosote and applying certain chemicals to help them reduce the amount of creosote buildup in your chimney.
Have you ever seen a chimney still smoking even long after the fire in the fireplace has been put out? It could be that there is a chimney fire. Although it seems minimal and doesn’t immediately cause visible damage, the grave danger is that a chimney fire will escalate the creosote buildup, create a serious blockage in the chimney, and cause highly toxic carbon monoxide to remain in the house.
Take Creosote Off Safely
The safest way to deal with creosote is to have a professional chimney sweep come to your home regularly to clean and inspect the chimney as recommended by the CSIA. The ideal times to do this are right after the winter season when the fireplace and chimney are used the most and right before the next winter to ensure that all parts are intact and ready to function properly. Call us and get to know our reliable sweeps here at Mason’s Chimney Service & Certified Air Duct Cleaning Inc. today.