What Creosote Does to Your Chimney and Flue

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If your home has a chimney, you need to learn as much as you can about maintenance, and some of the challenges you might have to deal with. A chimney needs attention if you want it to keep functioning properly. To protect the chimney and your home, you must deal with creosote. This substance is a leading cause of house fires, and it can affect the way the chimney works. It can also cause damage to the internal components.

What is Creosote?

This is a chemical by-product of burning wood or fossil fuels. The heat carries it up into the chimney where it is deposited, and continues to build each time there is a fire. It is vaporized as the wood burns, traveling up the chimney as flue gas. It condenses as it reaches the flue and upper sections of the chimney. Eventually, it will become thick coating inside the chimney and flue.

This occurs in three stages. At first it is soft, very similar to ash, and easy to remove. After some time it develops a crusty appearance and it crumbles easily. If creosote continues to build, it will start to look like tar. It will be very dark and glassy looking, and it will harden to the point where it is difficult to remove.

Effects of Creosote

As mentioned earlier, creosote is highly combustible, so after each cold season, it is important to clear it out of the chimney. Excessive buildup can prevent the chimney from venting smoke and gases. This can affect the air quality inside the home.

If you have had a fire in the chimney, you should consider it unsafe to use even if it does not spread to the rest of the house. If there is one fire, there is a good chance that it could happen again. A chimney fire can also weaken the structure and cause serious damage to the flue. It is best to call a chimney technician to have it checked before attempting to light another fire.

One way to keep creosote buildup to a minimum is to use only very dry wood in your fireplace or wood stove. Greener wood produces more tar, so this will speed up deposits in the chimney. Keep your wood stored in a dry place, because if it absorbs any moisture it will produce more creosote when you burn it.

Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Our chimney experts at Lou Curley’s Chimney service are CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) Certified. You’re sure to get the best quality care when you call us for a consultation, chimney inspection, chimney cleaning, or chimney repair.

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