Company Blog

Watch Out for Creosote!

Creosote:  noun  (kree-uh-soht)- a dark brown or black flammable tar (especially from) wood smoke deposited onto the walls of a chimney

Creosote is actually a combination of chemicals that are left behind after woods and coals are burned in the fireplace or woodstove.  There are three different stages of creosote buildup and each has different consequences.

  • Stage 1: Soft and dusty
    • Flakey and dusty
    • Usually easily brushed out of the chimney.
    • Easily ignited by stray spark or ember.
  • Stage 2: Crisp and crunchy
    • Crunchy and somewhat tar-like
    • Usually still brushable, but more difficult to completely remove. May require more aggressive brushing tools or some scraping.
  • Stage 3: Slick and shiny
    • Glazed and more like burned tar; non-brushable; very difficult to remove requiring very aggressive, specialty tools or chemicals and considerable more time with limited results.
    • If there is a chimney fire where this creosote is present,
      • it may puff up layer by layer as it burns and potentially sustain a serious chimney
      • it may melt and run down the chimney to the base (or smoke shelf), where it may puddle and ignite.

One of the top priorities of a chimney sweep during an annual cleaning and inspection is to minimize and, if possible, eliminate creosote buildup.

There are reasons that creosote should not be allowed to accumulate inside of the chimney.

  1. The substance is extremely and its presence will increase the risk of a dangerous, destructive chimney fire.
  2. Health risks are associated with creosote.
    • It can irritate the eyes or skin.
    • It can cause respiratory issues after prolonged exposure.

Annual Inspection

Basic Level 1 Inspection (Chimney Check-Up)

  • Look for creosote buildup
  • Look for any other risk of use (safety) issues.
  • Look for issues related to use, general “wear & tear” or home maintenance.

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth technicians are well-trained and prepared to inspect and evaluate your chimney for creosote build-up and sweep it where needed.  At the end of the inspection process, you will receive a condition report noting any issues found and recommendations for resolution of any noted issues.

Annual inspection and regular sweeping will minimize the risk of loss of life or property damage.  Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth and our friendly staff are pleased to help you keep fire in its place in your home!  We encourage you to do your part to protect your family and property!  Make sure to have your chimney systems inspected annually and serviced when needed.

Done with a Dirty Chimney

Keeping your chimney clean isn’t one of those domestic tasks that screams for attention. However, it is critical to have at least one inspection every year and to have a chimney swept if the inspection shows that it needs to be cleaned.  To schedule an appointment for your annual inspection or to have any other questions answered about what you see (or don’t see) in your chimney, call the professionals at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth. We are here to make it as simple as possible.

Done With a Dirty Chimney Image - Greenville SC - Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

If you have any questions about what you can see in your chimney, call us…we are here to make it simple.

What makes my chimney dirty?

Creosote is a byproduct that is released from burning firewood. It can clump together and collect on the interior walls of your chimney to block your chimney.  The more firewood you burn, the more creosote will be released.

On uncovered chimneys, animals can leave various types of droppings or nesting materials behind in your chimney when they visit or nest. Droppings can be unhealthy. Nesting materials can create blockages.

Why do I need a sweep?

Chimney sweepings and inspections are one of the most important parts of chimney maintenance.  Deposits inside of your chimney can cause …Buildup that could result in

  • Build up that could result in the chimney fire. Chimney fires can be dangerous and can result in the need for expensive repairs.
  • Blockages that could interfere with proper drafting. Exhaust may not be able to properly flow out of your home and could leave you in danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
    • Symptoms of CO poisoning vary depending on exposure. Slight cases will give you headaches and nausea, where more serious cases can leave you hospitalized or can be fatal.
  • Buildup (whether creosote or animal droppings) can leave you with a foul odor that can enter the home in Summer months.

How do I prepare for the sweep?

It is relieving to know that having a chimney sweep requires little to no work from the homeowner.  It is important to hire someone who is Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified to make sure you are getting the most for your investment.

You may be asked …

  • Not to burn a fire for at least 24 hours before the time of the sweep so everything has time to cool down for the technicians.
  • To move furniture and valuables from the immediate are of the fireplace.
  • Lock up your pets for their safety and the safety of the crew.

So, if you’re done with your dirty chimney, give Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth a call. Our CSIA certified chimney sweeps are here for you.