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Creosote Removal

If you have a wood burning fireplace, annual chimney sweepings should be an important part of your maintenance plan. Chimney sweepings do much more than just keep your flue and fireplace clean – they are the most effective way to remove creosote from your chimney. However, despite the negative effects creosote can have on your chimney system, many homeowners are left wondering what creosote is, why it builds up in the chimney, and what can be done to remove it.

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What is creosote?

Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion; while it is created in small amounts in all fuel burning fires, it is produced in the largest amounts by wood burning fires. Creosote accumulates over time, sticking to the walls of the flue; the longer creosote is allowed to harden in the chimney, the harder it is to remove.

The presence of creosote in your chimney is dangerous because of how flammable creosote it; accidental creosote ignition is the leading cause of chimney fire in the United States. When creosote is not removed, stray sparks and embers from the fireplace can cause it to ignite and lead to a chimney fire. While not dangerous, creosote can also cause unpleasant chimney odors. Chimney odors caused by creosote are often at their worst during warm and humid weather, making them extremely noticeable during the summer months.

Stages of creosote

While creosote starts as a sticky liquid, it condenses and dries onto the walls of your flue over time. The amount the creosote has hardened is known as stage one, stage two, or stage three creosote.

  •  Stage one: Stage one creosote is newly formed and can easily be removed using chimney brushes. In this stage, creosote resembles a velvety soot, making it difficult to distinguish from soot in the fireplace and chimney.
  • Stage two: Stage two creosote forms a crunchy, dry, and thin layer in the flue; this is the most common stage of creosote, but it can still be easily removed.
  • Stage three: Stage three creosote is often called glazed creosote because it forms a hard, glassy finish on the flue. Because of this, glazed creosote is extremely difficult to remove.

Removing creosote

Although they can still damage your chimney system, stage one and stage two creosote are relatively easy to remove during an annual chimney sweeping. The chimney sweep will use brushes and other tools to loosen and remove the creosote buildup in the flue, drastically reducing the risk of chimney fire.

The process of removing glazed creosote is much more difficult and intensive. Because it is so tightly adhered to the flue, specialized chemicals must be used in order to loosen the creosote. Then, special tools are used to chip away at and remove the glazed creosote – all without damaging the chimney lining. Because of this, the painstaking process of removing glazed creosote is best done by a professional chimney sweep.

Don’t let creosote accumulation ruin your fireplace and chimney. Contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today for more information on our chimney sweeping services and creosote removal.

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