Why and How to Reduce Creosote in your Chimney Lining
For anyone who uses their fireplace, the presence of creosote is unavoidable. Every time you burn wood, some creosote is deposited in your chimney lining. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the result of failing to remove the creosote could be a deadly chimney fire. It’s also important to note that you can do things that will help to reduce the amount of creosote in your chimney.
What makes the NFPA an authority on the creosote in your chimney? The nonprofit organization was established in 1896, and part of their express purpose in getting started was to help cut down on hazardous fires worldwide. The NFPA is an authoritative source which develops consensus codes aimed at reducing the possibility of fires, and the organization is also the leading advocate of fire prevention.
Based on careful research, the NFPA highly recommends that chimneys be inspected annually, and the purpose is to determine whether or not creosote buildup has reached a hazardous level. Chimney sweeps have all the tools required, if chimney cleaning is needed.
You can slow down the creosote buildup, which means your chimney stays safer and cleaner for a longer period of time. Less creosote also means less pollution, since it is clean burning that reduces a buildup of the flammable substance. Creosote is tar-like, black, and sooty; and it has three stages. The second stage is more difficult to clean and more hazardous than the first; and the third stage of creosote is the most dangerous and is extremely tough to remove.
First Stage Creosote.
Creosote in its first stage looks like flaky soot. It is easy to remove, using a basic chimney brush.
Second Stage Creosote.
The second stage of creosote looks like hard, shiny black flakes. Hardened tar is in the flakes, and it can’t be brushed away easily. A rotary loop is usually required to remove second-stage creosote. A rotary loop is a powerful drill that turns metal rods and does a good job of removing the tarry substance.
Third Stage Creosote.
Homeowners really should avoid having to deal with third-stage creosote because it is terribly difficult to remove, but it is also very dangerous because it is a highly concentrated fuel. This stage of creosote looks like a thick coating of tar is dripping down on the inside of your chimney flue. This glazed creosote hardens and thickens, layer upon layer. The creosote can easily be ignited with a hot fire in the fireplace. This type of creosote leaves an easy-to-remove spongy residue behind after catching fire, but a chimney fire is not safe to use as a solution for creosote. In fact, cleaning the chimney is largely for the purpose of avoiding a chimney fire.
Chimney fires produce intense flames which can cause a fire on the roof, damage the flue, and cause nearby combustible parts of the home to ignite.
Chemicals are used by chimney sweeps to remove stage three creosote, but sometimes the best solution is to replace the chimney liner.
Tips for Minimizing Creosote
- Burn hot, clean fires as opposed to slow-burning, smoldering fires. With slow-burning blazes, a greater amount of combustion by-products is left in the chimney, as opposed to being released out of the chimney.
- Burn only seasoned firewood, which means that the logs have low moisture content.
- Do not burn artificial logs because they leave behind a lot of creosote in the chimney.
- If the chimney is filled with cold air, it will result in poor combustion in the fireplace. The way many people dispel the cold column of air is by rolling newspaper and lighting it as a torch and holding it up through the damper. (Please use extreme caution, if you try this method, to avoid being burned.)
Our chimney professionals can help you determine how much creosote and what type of creosote is in your chimney. Call today for an inspection and cleaning.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337