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All About Creosote and Its Dangers

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If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you most likely have creosote deposits in your chimney right now. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), creosote occurs naturally during the wood-burning process, and when it builds up in your chimney on its walls, it creates a dangerous fire hazard as creosote is a highly combustible compound. For this reason, your chimney needs to be swept at least annually by a company like Magic Sweep with CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to remove creosote accumulation to prevent a chimney fire in your home. We would like to tell you more about creosote and how the expert chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep remove the built-up creosote deposits from your chimney.

Creosote Deposits - Chesapeake VA - Magic Sweep

This image is courtesy of Dennis Lamb of Mad Hatter Chimney Service in Indianapolis IN.

How does creosote form?

When wood burns, it gives off by-products of combustion such as smoke, gases, vapors, unburned wood particles, tar fog, and hydrocarbon that your chimney needs to expel from your home as they can be hazardous to breathe. When these substances flow through the cooler, upper part of your chimney, condensation happens, and that is when creosote forms as a residue that sticks to the walls of your chimney.

What does creosote look like?

Creosote can take on different appearances. Whether it is black or brown in color, hard and shiny, gummy and sticky, or flaky and crusty, creosote is dangerous no matter what it looks like.

How does accumulations of creosote cause chimney fires?

A highly combustible material, creosote can build up into large enough amounts that can easily ignite if the internal flue temperature is high enough.

What kind of conditions encourage the development of creosote?

According to the CSIA, restricted air flow, unseasoned firewood, and cooler than normal chimney temperatures all give an optimum atmosphere for creosote to accumulate. Always be sure your damper and glass fireplace doors are opened when you are burning a fire to allow the heated smoke to exit your chimney more rapidly. Always use seasoned firewood as burning unseasoned wood wastes so much energy burning off the water hidden in the wood cells and creates a cooler smoke. You want the smoke that leaves your chimney to be as hot as possible to keep the chimney temperatures warm.

How do you remove creosote from chimney walls?

There is an important reason the CSIA, the National Fire Prevention Association, and other fire safety groups recommend you have your chimney professionally swept annually: clean chimneys do not start chimney fires. The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep will perform a thorough cleaning that will ensure no creosote deposits are left behind.

If you have not arranged your annual chimney sweeping this year, contact Magic Sweep to schedule an appointment to have the creosote deposits removed by our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. Keep your chimney safe from fires with this simple maintenance step.