This is creosote

It’s fireplace season, which is always a wonderful time of year. But burning wood in your fireplace means a build-up of creosote in your chimney. If you haven’t had your chimney inspected or cleaned in awhile, there may be a great deal more build-up than you realize, which can be both smelly and dangerous.

Here are 4 things you should know about creosote:

1.What Is Creosote?

Creosote is a tar-like byproduct of wood combustion. Traces of creosote exist within the smoke that rises from an open flame, and when it comes in contact with colder air near the top of the chimney, it solidifies and sticks to the chimney liner. It starts out sticky and soft, or thin and flaky, but the heat from subsequent fires will “bake” it so that it gets harder and more solid.

2. Is Creosote Flammable?

Creosote itself can be extremely flammable, and bits of wood and paper can get stuck in it as well, which are also very flammable. A chimney fire can not only destroy your chimney, but can turn in an even more destructive house fire.

3. Can I Prevent Creosote From Forming?

You can’t prevent creosote from forming, since creosote is a natural by-product of any burning wood. However, you can reduce the amount that forms by burning well-seasoned, dry wood. Also, avoid high-resin wood such as fir, spruce, and pine.

Creosote will still form, however, and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, as the less ventilated your chimney is (which happens as the creosote narrows the pathway for the smoke), the more will form, and so on. Thus, your best bet is to get your chimney inspected and cleaned often, at least once a year.

See Why Kiln-Dried Firewood is the Best

4. How Do Chimney Sweeps Clean Off the Creosote?

It depends on what stage of build-up the creosote is in.

Stage 1: The creosote is mostly soot, thin and flaky or thinly resinous, and can be removed fairly easily with a specialized brush.

Stage 2: The creosote is more tar than soot, and can be much harder to remove. May require special solvents to loosen up the several layers of gunk.

Stage 3: The creosote is so thick and baked on that it becomes hard and glossy like obsidian. This is extremely difficult and costly to remove, and may damage the structure of your chimney. Don’t let it get this bad!

Make sure your fires are clean and safe this winter. Contact Us today to to make an appointment to inspect and/or clean your chimney, so that you can relax and enjoy all that cozy heat and warmth until next spring! Our certified Portland Chimney Sweeps are ready to clean your chimney!

Portland Chimney Repair – Service Area

Located right here in Oregon, our Portland chimney sweep technicians provide the best in chimney repair, fireplace installation and dryer vent care in the Greater Portland-Metro area. From NE Portland down to SE Portland, Tualatin and Oregon City in the south, from Pleasant Valley in the east to Beaverton and Sherwood in the west – when it comes to your chimney, fireplace and vents, we hope you’ll call American Chimney & Masonry! We are the most trusted Portland Chimney Repair company!

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To schedule an appointment with one of our expert chimney repair technicians, please call 503-644-0393. With over 19,000 satisfied customers since 1989, we are ready for more! We look forward to visiting with you soon about your fireplace and chimney sweep needs.