Company Blog

Creosote F.A.Q.

One of the leading causes of chimney fires, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), creosote build-up is a dangerous fact of life when you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove. Removing creosote deposits from your chimney walls is a big part of your annual chimney sweeping, and this maintenance can save you and your family’s life since creosote building up on your chimney walls puts you at risk of a chimney fire.

It isn't possible to clean 100% of the creosote in your chimney. However, you need regular maintenance to keep the level low.

It isn’t possible to clean 100% of the creosote in your chimney. However, you need regular maintenance to keep the level low.

The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps clean your chimney thoroughly to remove any creosote sticking to your chimney walls when performing their chimney sweeps. We at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps would like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about creosote to inform you about this fire hazard.

What exactly is creosote and how does it get in my chimney?  Occurring naturally, creosote is the resulting residue of the condensation that occurs when the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, vapors, unburned wood particles, tar fog, and other assorted minerals) leave the fireplace or wood stove and exit the cooler upper chimney. This residue sticks behind on the chimney walls.

What does creosote look like? Varying in appearance, creosote can be either black or brown, and it takes different forms: sticky and tar-like, flat and shiny, and crusty and flaky. No matter what it looks like, creosote is highly combustible in every form.

How does creosote build-up start chimney fires? If the build-up is large enough and your internal chimney flue temperature gets hot enough, a chimney fire could ignite, thanks to the highly combustible makeup of creosote.

Are there conditions that encourage the development of creosote deposits? Yes, certain things to help creosote to build up more quickly: restricted air flow, burning unseasoned wood, and cooler than normal chimney temperatures.

What can I do to change these conditions? To keep air flowing properly and without restrictions, open the glass fireplace doors when burning a fire, and always be sure your damper is wide open when burning a fire. You want to be sure you have enough air flowing into your fireplace to move heated smoke up the chimney quickly because the longer the smoke stays in the flue, the more likely creosote will form. When using a wood stove, do not close down the stove damper or air inlets too soon or too much. Always use seasoned firewood because burning unseasoned wood keeps the smoke cooler because the fire spends so much time burning off the excess water in the wood cells. Also, when using a wood stove, never overload the firebox with wood in an attempt to get a longer burn time because this also adds to creosote development.

What is the best way to prevent the accumulation of large creosote deposits? As the CSIA says, “clean chimneys don’t catch fire.” Having your chimney swept annually by a CSIA-certified company like Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps is the best possible prevention of creosote building up large enough to ignite a chimney fire. Our chimney sweeps are well experienced with creosote removal, and can rid your chimney walls of all creosote deposits.

If you have more questions about creosote and chimney fires, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps today. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney cleaning to give yourself peace of mind regarding a possible chimney fire.

Draft and Your Chimney

Smoky fireplace? There might be a problem with your chimney's draft.

Smoky fireplace? There might be a problem with your chimney’s draft.

While we all have hopes for spring weather approaching, it looks like we will still have a few winter nights. When the warmth does come in and fireplace usage drops, that does not mean that it is time to neglect your chimney maintenance. It is important that one has a yearly sweep and inspection to make sure the unit is safe to use. This is usually done before the burning season starts. However, when you need to schedule your appointment or have any other chimney related questions call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps.

What is chimney draft?

It is important that your chimney’s draft in unharmed so that the toxic air can be removed from the home. As the air in your chimney gets hotter, it begins to pull air through the firebox. This is called draft. The force of the draft can be varied by increasing or decreasing fire levels and adjusting temperatures, or by building a taller chimney.

What happens to change the draft?

There are many things that can occur to disrupt a draft’s flow. One common reason is an excessive amount of creosote buildup. Creosote is released during the burning of fire and clumps together inside of you chimney. This is why you should have an annual chimney sweep by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) professional. CSIA has created a set of guidelines to make sure that the job is done to leave you safe and getting the most out of your appointment! Other things that could cause problems with the draft are clogged dampers and dirty chimney caps, and structural damage and building issues.

What happens when the draft is changed?

When there are draft problems, the air filled with gases such as carbon monoxide from the fire are not able to escape the home properly. Since CO is colorless and odorless, you cannot tell when it begins to fill a room. For many people this means they begin to feel symptoms before realizing anything is wrong, which could be anything from mild to fatal depending on the level of exposure. If you feel you are in an area that is questionable, you should evacuate the area and seek medical help immediately.