Creosote is often mentioned when discussing chimney concerns, but most of you are wondering, what is it? You might know by now that it’s bad, but that’s usually where the knowledge begins and ends. It is important to know what we are talking about when discussing creosote and how to avoid it in your chimney.   

What is Creosote?  

Creosote mainly consists of tar produced when you burn wood inside your fireplace. When your fireplace is hosting a fire, smoke rises from the flames and creates creosote when mixed with cold air. This tar substance builds up as it sticks to the chimney liner or brick. It poses a safety hazard because it is very flammable, and the more present in your chimney, the greater the risk of a fire.   

Creosote also never goes away, but instead, it grows. It coats the chimney flue, which creates a narrow passageway for smoke and additional creosote. If left untreated, it can build up and completely block the chimney flue, possibly causing a house fire, or at the very least, it can make the chimney unusable.   

How to Avoid Creosote in your Chimney   

There is no way to completely avoid at least small amounts in your chimney, but it’s only problematic when there’s build-up. Since build-up happens when your chimney is not properly ventilated or regularly cleaned, those are two simple ways to reduce it. The safest and most reliable way is to call the professionals. It is not completely impossible to remove it yourself, but it is not safe for the average person to execute the removal. Creosote causes many health concerns, including irritated skin and eyes, respiratory issues, and possibly even cancer if improperly exposed. You will avoid exposure to creosote if your chimney is cleaned at least once a year by a professional.

Creosote Stages and Removal Process   

Whether your build-up is standard or more severe, it is important to leave the removal process to the professionals. There are three different stages of build-up, and each is more severe.

Stage 1 is when small amounts are present, and the texture closely resembles soot. It is thin and flaky with a shallow coating that is easily removed with the right equipment.

Stage 2 is when more residue is present, and it is a thick tar instead of just soot. There is usually quite a bit more present, and it is a harder texture that is more difficult to remove. Removal at this stage usually requires chemicals and heavier machinery than a standard metal brush.

Stage 3 is when a significant amount is present, is heavily concentrated in certain areas, and is hard, sticky, and oily, making it even more difficult to remove.  

We promise you that it is much easier and less expensive to have us sweep away the Stage 1 creosote than it will be for us to clean up your chimney once it reaches Stage 3!   

Let Southern Chimneys handle any build-up you may have, and give us a call today to schedule your cleaning.