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.