3rd Stage or Glazed Creosote Removal
Everyone knows that when you hire a chimney sweep, one of his most important jobs is to clean the creosote out of the chimney so you don’t have a chimney fire.
Most often, the creosote that needs to be removed from your flue is light and fluffy or a little crusty and flaky, but with the right tools and a little bit of elbow grease, normal creosote can be removed with professional chimney brushes.
“Glazed” or “3rd Stage Creosote”, however, is a different story altogether!
Have you ever made a batch of hard candy suckers in your kitchen? After pouring the hot liquid candy into the various molds, you’d better wash out your pan as soon as possible because if you don’t, the candy will crystallize as it cools, and glue itself to your pan! Wait too long and you’ll need an ice pick to get it off!
Glazed creosote is a type of creosote that has a consistency very similar to that of crystallized, hardened candy. It can be a slightly tacky substance, or a hardened, crystallized glaze that has glued itself firmly to the inner walls of your chimney.
Glazed creosote also looks different from regular creosote. Rather than being a dull brown or charcoal color with a fluffy or flaky consistency, glazed creosote is a shiny, jet black substance that looks like somebody poured Hershey’s Chocolate syrup down your chimney!
Most often, glazed creosote forms in a chimney because one or more of the following reasons:
1. The homeowner has an unlined wood stove insert.
2. The homeowner is burning green wood that hasn’t been allowed to dry out and become seasoned yet.
3. The homeowner is stuffing their wood stove full of wood, and then promptly cutting off the air supply. Smoldering the fire in order to keep from having to put in another load too quickly, or in order to keep the room from getting uncomfortably hot. Both of these poor burning habits are surefire ways of forming glazed creosote in your chimney.
Because any form of creosote can be very flammable, it must be removed from your chimney as thoroughly as possible in order to reduce the chances of having a chimney fire. Glazed creosote is especially high in potential energy (BTU’s). If it were to ignite during a chimney fire, the results could be disastrous.
Glazed Creosote is most often removed with the following two methods:
1. With less severe cases, a safe and non-toxic chemical called Anti-Creo-Soot can be purchased from A to Z for treating the problem. Several squirts per fire are often all that’s needed to help transform the stubbornly crystallized glaze creosote into a softer, fluffier, more brushable composition that can be cleaned at your next cleaning with regular chimney sweeping brushes.
2. In more severe cases, glazed creosote will need to be removed with a specialized apparatus called “Glaze Chains” or a “Ro Clean Tool”. Chains on the end of a rod spin around inside your chimney at high speeds and slap the inner walls of your chimney’s flue in order to shatter and dislodge the glazed creosote.
This time consuming and painstaking process will usually only be able to remove 85-90% of the glazed creosote from your chimney.
The rest will need to be chemically treated with Anti Creosote and cleaned at the next scheduled chimney sweeping. “Glaze Chains” are also very aggressive, and should be used sparingly. While they will not crack or break flue tiles that are in good condition, they may dislodge or break open already damaged or weakened flue tiles.
Because glazed creosote is often a thick, caked-on layer covering the inner surfaces of your flue, it is impossible for A to Z’s technicians to determine whether your chimney’s terra cotta flue tiles are in good condition before the cleaning process begins. As such, A to Z will not assume any liability or be held responsible for cracked or broken flue tiles discovered while removing glazed creosote from your chimney.
Besides being more difficult to remove, glazed creosote also has a more pungent, smoky smell than regular creosote. It basically smells exactly like what it is… super-highly-condensed wood smoke on steroids! Oftentimes customers have us remove the glazed creosote in order to eliminate this pungent, smoky smell from their homes.
Unfortunately, your masonry chimney’s brickwork is extremely porous, and although the majority of the glazed creosote can be removed from your chimney, the pungent smell will take time to dissipate. Like new carpet or paint, glazed creosote’s pungent odor will take it’s own sweet time to “off gas” before it is no longer detectable. Getting the glazed creosote removed as much as possible is the first step to getting your house smelling normal again, but remember, cleaning it will not make the smell disappear overnight!
Being one of the only chimney companies in the Sacramento area with specialized tools and expertise for removing glazed creosote, A to Z often receives referrals from other chimney sweeps to perform this service.
If you have a glazed or 3rd stage creosote problem in your chimney, feel confident knowing that A to Z Chimney Sweep has the tools, techniques and experience needed to remove it for you! Contact us today.
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I just wanted to thank you for your expert advice at my last chimney cleaning. We were looking to purchase and install a new wood stove in order to keep our home warmer during the winter, and although it wasn’t directly related to having our chimney swept, your technician took a lot of time to go over several features and designs that were good, and told me several things to watch out for when purchasing a new wood stove.
Needless to say, I could tell this guy knew what he was talking about! It was nice getting an impartial opinion from someone who works with wood stoves all day long!
Suffice it to say that when our new wood stove is installed, we’ll continue to have A to Z out to clean it! You guys are awesome!
~ Allan Stuckin, Fair Oaks, CA
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