How to Prevent Creosote Buildup & Avoid a Chimney Fire

Creosote is a highly flammable tarlike chemical that infiltrates your chimney liner each time you burn wood. Your chimney and its liner’s main function are to carry dangerous flue gases effortlessly out of your home. If your liner has a large amount of creosote buildup, it cannot properly ventilate and poor ventilation can lead to structural damage and more importantly, to a deadly chimney fire. You need to work with a company that offers annual inspections, as well as cleanings. Whether you live on the east coast and need a chimney cleaning in Hartford CT or you live in Arizona, it’s always smart to ensure your chimney is safe this winter.

Chimney cleaning, also known as chimney sweeping, involves the process of identifying and repairing structural weaknesses, removing debris that may be blocking your chimney, and removing the deposits that accumulate in the hard-to-reach areas within the ducts, the flue and the chimney walls. Creosote deposits form when smoke ascends through the chimney then cools and condenses to leave a hazardous residue.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that your chimney should be inspected annually to determine if the creosote in your chimney has reached dangerous levels that could cause a chimney fire. Creosote has three distinct stages, and as each stage increases, it becomes much more difficult to remove from the flue.

Stage 1: First-degree creosote is ashy soot. This is the easiest form to remove from your chimney and a Caps & Damper professional can perform a chimney sweep to effectively remove the soot.

Stage 2: Second-degree creosote generally consists of black flakes that contain hardened tar. This is difficult to remove, but important to have it professionally scrubbed away immediately to prevent further damage and buildup.

Stage 3: Third-degree creosote is the worst stage of all because it means there is a thick and highly concentrated coat of tar running down the inside of your chimney. If your chimney gets to this stage, it may require a new liner. A Caps & Dampers professional will recommend your best option.

How to prevent creosote buildup - excessive creosote buildup

Creosote can also cause harmful fumes, including Carbon Monoxide, to seep into the home and cause poising or fatalities. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that forms by the incomplete combustion of fumes. A proper chimney cleaning will prevent any dangerous substance from increasing to hazardous amounts and allows your chimney to operate and ventilate cleanly and efficiently.

How to Further Prevent Creosote Buildup:

  • Avoid burning fires that are slow-moving and smoldering because this type quickly contributes to the buildup of creosote deposits in the flue.
  • Try not to burn unseasoned or fresh cut wood. These types will have higher moisture content and that’s not optimal to burn a clean fire.
  • Do not burn artificial logs in your fireplace or woodstove. They will deposit a larger amount of creosote.
  • Burn a fire that has plenty of air because restricted airflow from glass doors or inserts will deposit second-degree creosote at a steady pace.

Be safe and improve the performance of your fireplace, woodstove, or any other form of chimney system by burning safe and smart fire and by scheduling a chimney cleaning appointment as soon as possible.