Creosote is what builds up inside your chimney as you are burning wood in your fireplace. Part of the creosote is soot, but the majority of it is a tar-like substance. That is why it sticks to the sides of your chimney quite easily. Creosote should be professionally removed once it reaches 1/4 inch thick.

Depending on how often you have fires and how often you have your chimney cleaned and inspected will determine what degree of creosote is inside your chimney. There are three degrees and as you can probably guess, the higher the degree, the worse the creosote is.

First Degree

This is the lowest level of creosote build-up and this means that your chimney is working well with a lot of air flow and you most likely have had your chimney cleaned within a year. There is very little tar found with first-degree creosote and most of what is on the inside of your chimney is soot. This soot can easily be swept out with a chimney brush.

Second Degree

There is more tar involved with second-degree creosote because less air is flowing through your chimney. The limited air flow can be from using glass doors when the fire is burning or there can be a blockage inside your chimney. Even though second-degree creosote flakes off in pieces, it is not as easy to remove as first-degree creosote is. A chimney brush will remove most of it, but some tar may still be stuck to the sides of your chimney after the cleaning.

Third Degree

This is the worst level of creosote build-up that you can have and it will look like the inside of your chimney is coated with a continuous layer of tar. This type of creosote build-up is found when unseasoned wood is continuously burned or there is no air flow through the chimney and fireplace. Third-degree creosote is quite difficult to remove, yet it cannot be left inside your chimney. The creosote can catch on fire quickly and spread throughout your entire house without warning.

In order to keep the degree of creosote inside your chimney low, we recommend that you do the following:

  • Only burn seasoned wood
  • Burn hot fires instead of slow, smoldering ones
  • Keep the glass doors of your fireplace open when burning a fire – use a screen instead
  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year

Taking these preventative measures will help keep your creosote levels down and you and your family safe. The CSIA certified chimney sweeps at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service in Drexel Hill are waiting to hear from you. We’re a family-owned and operated company with more than 20 years of experience in the field. We work to further our education and gain or renew our certifications every year so that we can offer you the best in chimney services. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 if you’re in Drexel Hill or anywhere along the Main Line and in need of chimney services or inspection.