Creosote Removal

Facts about Creosote Removal

Sitting before a crackling fireplace on a cold, wintery night is the ultimate picture of comfort; that is, if creosote removal service is being regularly maintained on the chimney.  Without this valuable service, homeowners are placing themselves and their families at great risk.

Creosote is a byproduct of wood or coal tar.  Since burning coal is not a common practice in the United States any longer, it is the creosote that is produced from burning wood in free standing stoves and fireplaces that are the danger.  When wood is burned, gasses are released that are not burnt off.  Instead, the gasses condense to a liquid and adheres to the inside walls of the chimney liner where it subsequently dries to form a substance called creosote.  It builds up, unseen, on the flue tile or chimney liner every time wood is burnt, creating a thick layer over time that becomes a source of ignition that would expand into a chimney fire.  In order for the creosote to ignite, high temperatures of 1,000 degrees or more are required.  It may seem impossible that the heat within a chimney could reach such staggering temperatures, yet statistics prove that well over three fourths of all chimney fires are caused by creosote deposits.  Even thin layers of creosote can create a hazard, and must be eliminated.

Creosote removal should be done on a regular basis when wood is frequently burnt. A good gauge to use is in the amount of wood used.  It is recommended that a chimney cleaning should be done for every cord of wood that is burned.  It can be done by the homeowner or by a professional company specializing in chimney sweeps.  A well fitting steel brush is the only recommended tool to use for scraping away any creosote that may have accumulated in the chimney.  Disregard any advice of using homemade measures such as tire chains or bags of straw; they do not work and will only serve to instill a false sense of security in the homeowner.   The frequency of the cleanings will depend on how much the fireplace or wood burning stove is used; the more wood that is burned, the more frequent the cleanings should be.

Chemical products can also be purchased to help keep the chimney clean of creosote.  It is available in powdered, liquid or spray form, and normally serves to dissipate the creosote or modifies into a form that is more conducive to effective chimney sweeping.  After a professional chimney cleaning, products are available to help prevent buildup of the dangerous substance.

Preventative measures can be taken to lessen the risk of creosote buildup.  Wood that contains more than 25% moisture is called “green”, meaning that it has not yet been aged.  This moisture contains certain resins that become dangerous gasses when ignited.  Only using wood that has been well seasoned for a period of at least six months will be very helpful in lowering fire risks. Also, burning small fires as opposed to roaring blazes helps to keep temperatures in the chimney low enough to prevent any creosote deposits from igniting.  It is important to know that regardless of how careful a homeowner is when burning wood in their free standing stove or fireplace, creosote removal is still a necessary function as it will accumulate even in the best of situations.

When the winter season approaches, one of the pleasures of the season is sitting in front of a warm, crackling fire while the cold and snow encompass the out of doors.  Knowing that the chimney is clean and your family is safe due to the creosote removal makes that cozy scene even more enjoyable.