It’s a known fact that burning wood in the fireplace results in a buildup of creosote in the chimney. But why is that? Do some chimneys accumulate creosote faster than others? And is there anything that can be done to reduce the buildup of dangerous creosote in your chimney?
Why does creosote build up in chimneys?
Creosote is a byproduct of incomplete wood combustion. When wood burns, creosote forms and is carried upward by smoke. As the smoke cools within the chimney, creosote-laden condensation forms on the walls of the chimney, where it hardens and can pose a fire hazard. Note, however, that creosote is a result of INCOMPLETE wood combustion. Creosote itself will actually burn up if the fire is burning hotly and efficiently.
Why do some chimneys accumulate creosote faster?
Because creosote does burn up in a hot, efficient fireplace, some chimneys do, in fact, accumulate creosote faster than others. Wood begins to break down chemically at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature of the fire reaches 1,100 degrees, the gases and creosote the result from wood combustion also burst into flame. EPA-rated fireplace inserts, air-tight fireplaces, and woodstoves often generate temperatures in excess of the 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning those types of appliances will send much less creosote up the chimney than open-hearth fireplaces or older, less efficient fireplace inserts or wood-burning stoves.
In any fireplace, however, the smoke cools as it travels up the chimney. Any smoke that cools below that 1,100 degrees before the creosote burns will leave condensation on the chimney walls. Because the smoke reaches those cooler temperatures before exiting the chimney, some chimney types will accumulate more creosote because of their bends and crooks. Those types include:
- metal chimneys,
- chimneys that are located on exterior walls,
- chimneys that don’t draft efficiently,
- chimneys that are too large for the fireplace and chimney
What you can do to lessen creosote buildup in your chimney:
Once you know the science behind creosote formation, and that cooler fire temperatures lead to more rapid creosote formation, there are steps you can take to slow the buildup of creosote in your chimney. There are two factors to take into consideration when aiming to reduce creosote formation: You need to make sure that your fires are burning hot and that smoke is exiting your chimney quickly and efficiently. Some things you can do to slow creosote buildup include:
- Burning dry firewood that has been properly seasoned,
- Keeping the damper fully opened every time you burn a fire,
- Maintaining a hot, vigorously burning fire,
- Monitoring the temperature of your fireplace or chimney to ensure its burning hot enough to ensure creosote combustion,
- Making sure your chimney flue is properly sized for your fireplace, and
- Replacing inefficient open-hearth or outdated fireplace inserts with newer efficient EPA-certified models.
Of course, stemming the dangers of creosote buildup in your chimney begins with annual chimney sweepings and inspections. If you’re due to have your chimney swept and inspected, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your appointment today!
As summer officially draws to a close, it means one thing: Fall’s cooler temperatures soon will be upon us, and you will be ready to light the first fire of winter before you know it. Be ready for the coming winter by scheduling your chimney inspection with A to Z Chimney Services!
The importance of your chimney inspection
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that homeowners have their chimneys and heating appliances cleaned and inspected annually. The general rule of thumb is to have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected between fire-burning seasons. That means if you haven’t had your chimney swept and inspected since your last fire of the spring, you should have it inspected before your light the first fire of fall.
During your chimney inspection, your chimney sweep will do several things, including:
- Checking the chimney’s creosote levels. Dirty chimneys are a leading cause of chimney fires, and as little as 1/8 inch of creosote buildup can lead to a dangerous and damaging chimney fire. Your sweep will use their specialized brushes to remove any creosote that has accumulated on the walls of your chimney.
- Making sure that the chimney is free from obstructions. Animals, birds and debris like branches and leaves can lead to blockages in the chimney that can ignite and cause a chimney fire or that can cause smoke or carbon monoxide to build up within a home. Your sweep will make sure that your chimney is free from any blockages.
- Looking for leaks, cracks or other chimney deficiencies. Cracks, holes or other weaknesses in your chimney can lead to a host of problems. They can allow water to leak in through your chimney, damaging the chimney’s or your home’s structure. Cracks can also allow the heat of your chimney to escape and damage the surrounding studs and supports in your home’s walls. Your sweep will look for the early signs of chimney damage so it can be repaired before your home or chimney is in need of major repairs.
- Evaluating your fireplace or heating stove. Just like chimneys, fireplaces can break down over time or face malfunctions that could put your home in danger of a fire or of a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide. During your inspection, your chimney sweep also will check your fireplace and all of its working components to look for deficiencies, signs of damage or malfunctioning parts to make sure that it will be working safely and efficiently in the coming cold-weather season.
Fall’s colder temperatures will be upon us before you know it, and you will want to have your fireplace ready to warm your home. Waiting to schedule your inspection could leave you waiting for a sweep or waiting to schedule needed repairs. If you haven’t already had your chimney and fireplace inspected, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule an appointment today!
The new year presents the perfect time to check things off of your to-do list. If you haven’t had your annual cleaning and inspection, you should start the year with a freshly cleaned chimney! An uncleaned chimney poses a risk to your home and family. Resolve to maintain your fireplace’s safety by scheduling a chimney sweeping with a certified technician from A to Z Chimney Services today!
Importance of annual chimney cleaning
The National Fire Protection Association advises homeowners to have their chimneys cleaned and inspected at least once per year. An annual chimney sweeping guarantees that your chimney is clear from dangerous creosote. A highly flammable substance, creosote buildup is a leading cause of chimney fires. Creosote also can interfere with your chimney’s draft or cause an unpleasant smell in your home during warm summer months.
Your chimney sweep also inspects your fireplace and chimney for damage and proper function. Your annual chimney sweeping can help you to address minor problems with your fireplace or chimney before they become major problems. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, animals can build nests inside, or debris can build up, causing dangerous or damaging blockages. Your annual chimney sweep will make sure that your chimney is free and clear.
Other considerations for chimney cleanings
Remember, the recommendation for annual chimney cleanings states that homeowners should have their chimneys cleaned at least once per year. The new year can be a good midway point in the fire-burning season to address any problems you may be having with your fireplace or chimney. Your chimney should be cleaned if you notice any problems or change in its function. Water seeping, smoke back drafting into your home or visible cracks can all be signs that your chimney is in need of inspection or cleaning.
If you notice any soot or creosote buildup within your flue, it’s time to have your chimney swept again, even if your chimney was swept at the beginning of the fire-burning season. One-eighth inch buildup of creosote is considered a fire hazard, though any noticeable amount of creosote can cause damage to your chimney, as creosote is acidic and can corrode a metal, factory-built flue. Burning fires frequently, using unseasoned wood or burning pine in your fireplace all can cause creosote to build up more quickly in your flue.
Call to schedule your chimney sweeping!
Call the certified chimney sweeps at A to Z Chimney Services today at (916) 850-2446 to start your year with a freshly cleaned chimney! We’ll make sure your chimney is free from debris, dangerous creosote or damage. When A to Z sweeps your chimney, you can be sure that your chimney is clean and safe for the rest of the fire-burning season!
Schedule a Halloween Chimney Sweeping
October is the month of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. We celebrate this festive fall season by dressing our little monsters up as… little monsters! Then we trek from home to home collecting candy from homeowners who want to avoid having their jack-o-lantern smashed all over the sidewalk by some of the slightly older aforementioned “monsters”.
But monsters who smash pumpkins aren’t the only monsters you should be concerned about in October!
You need to take necessary precautions to avoid the chimney monsters lurking in the night waiting to possess your chimney….
If you are unfortunate enough to cross paths with one of these fire breathing monsters, you’ll know it! A low, rumbling growl coming from your fireplace or wood stove is usually the first indication of this monster’s presence.
Soon, a loud, howling wind is rushing up into your flue and fire can often be seen shooting out the top of the chimney! In the worst case scenario, the fire breathing chimney monster has been known to consume the entire home, leaving only a pile of burn ash and rubble in its terrible wake!
Forget about reciting prayers, hanging a dead chicken or drawing a circle of chalk around your chimney…. Traditional methods of warding off monsters are completely ineffectual when it comes to dealing with these chimney possessing beasts! The only way to protect your chimney from demonic possession is to have your chimney professionally cleaned and safety inspected!
Having the flammable creosote deposits removed from your chimney this October is the surest way to ward off evil fire breathing chimney demons!
Call us for your next chimney sweeping, dryer vent cleaning, or gas fireplace service.
So give us a call today and schedule your next chimney sweeping, gas fireplace service, or dryer cleaning. We can be reached at (916) 850-2446. We may not be able to keep your jack-o’-lanterns from getting smashed, but we sure can prevent a chimney monster infestation!
*Cannot be combined with any other discount or offer, or currently scheduled jobs. This offer must be mentioned at the time of booking your appointment.