Many homeowners across the U.S. have been using their fireplaces for several weeks. In that time, the fires have produced soot consistently, and wood fires produce creosote as well. Every fire that burns wood will produce creosote because it is a natural byproduct, but how much creosote is produced will depend on the type of wood you burn.

The Problem with Creosote

Creosote can be no problem as long as it’s cleaned on a regular basis. When cleaned regularly, creosote can be removed safely by a professional using brushes and a vacuuming system during a routine chimney sweep. When these important services are neglected, the sticky creosote can buildup and lead to an obstruction that slows down the air in the chimney system. When homeowners continue to use a dirty system, the airflow slows significantly and the high temperatures cause the creosote to boil and the water in it to evaporate. Once the water evaporates, what is left is a dense, hard mass of concentrated tar–a highly flammable material left right in the line of fire.

Glazed Creosote

A level three creosote buildup is called “glazed creosote” because the creosote takes on a hardened, shiny look after repeated heating and cooling. As the creosote problem worsens, the airflow slows and heated air lingers in the flue, raising the risk of flue fire. When glazed creosote ignites, it results in an intense, fast burning fire that expends a large amount of gas and energy. This burst of energy can crack the flue liner, damage the masonry, and spread to other parts of the house. Other times a flue fire can occur and a homeowner won’t even notice. It’s important to schedule a chimney inspection if you suspect a flue fire. The first flue fire may damage the system, and a second flue fire can travel through damaged masonry to the rest of the house.

Glazed Creosote Removal

Soot and creosote is easily removed during a routine chimney sweep. Glazed creosote, however, cannot be removed using the same methods. Some amateurs may attempt to remove the creosote by prying it away, but this never removes it completely and even leaves scratches and other damage to the liner. Hire a professional who knows the safe and proper methods for glazed creosote removal. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we use industrial products to safely remove glazed creosote without leaving any damage to the system. This trusted product can be sprayed or wiped onto the glazed creosote. As it’s absorbed, the creosote flakes away and can be swept away and collected just like soot.

Prevent Creosote Buildup

You can prevent a dangerous and dirty chimney system by scheduling professional services annually and using your system properly.

-Schedule routine chimney sweeps to clean the flue of soot and creosote before a buildup occurs.

-Burn only properly seasoned wood. Green or fresh wood produces more creosote while burning.

-Schedule chimney inspections annually so you can rest assured your system is working properly and the wood is burning completely.

-Pay attention to signs such as flakes in the fireplace or slick, black material on the masonry.

Schedule services with the licensed professionals at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today. Call 617-469-4528 or schedule online.