Company Blog

Chimney Fire Science

The Chimney Fire Image - Spartanburg SC - Blue Sky Bless Your HearthWhen wood is heated, burnable hydro-carbon gases are released. When the gases get hot enough and mix with air — there is fire. When the fire is not burned hot enough, the unburned gases condense and collect on the inside of stovepipes and flues as runny acids and liquid tars that harden into creosote. Creosote is flammable. If what’s in the chimney ignites – there is a chimney fire!

What contributes to a fire that is not hot enough? –a fire that encourages condensation? –a fire that makes creosote?

A cool fire :

A flue that is too big for the appliance it serves

Poor woodburning habits:

  • Severely limiting the air supply in a stove to achieve a long burn causes a sluggish draft and a smoldering fire that doesn’t get hot enough to burn the hydro-carbon gases.

An oversized or out dated stove:

  • A stove that is too big for the space it heats, is likely to be burned in a closed down, creosote-producing way
    Steam from green or wet wood – remember the heating up part we talked about above? Well, green or wet wood has to dry out before it can heat up enough to release the gases that can burn. As it heats it releases steam that lowers the flue temperatures. Lower flue temperatures cause the other hydro-carbon gases already in the flue to cool and condense on the sides of the flue.

What does creosote look like?

It has various forms.

  • Sooty powder
  • Crisp and crunchy
  • Gummy drippy mess
  • Hard glaze
  • Burnt marshmellows

Is there any way NOT to make creosote?

…or at least minimize how much is made? Yes!

  • Install an insulated flue liner that is properly sized for the appliance you are using (i.e. fireplace, wood stove insert, free standing heater).
  • Burn smaller hotter fires. (use seasoned wood or a mix of seasoned and green wood)
  • Replace an old stove with a new unit correctly sized for the space you are heating.

So what if you already have a creosote problem?

Find an experienced CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep right away. Put your fireplace or wood stove system on a regular inspection and maintenance schedule.

Chimney fires can burn like a blast furnace and sound like a freight train and look like a fireworks display. Sparks or burning embers from the fire can put your roof and home at risk. Chimney fires can also smolder silently so hot and for so long that it eventually catches wooden structure close to it afire simply from heat transfer. A chimney fire is definitely on the short list of things to be avoided. If you think you have experienced a chimney fire, call us for a free copy of the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s public service brochure entitled What You Need to Know After a Chimney Fire!

Keeping fire in its place in your home is a priority for Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps | Bless Your Hearth. Call today (864-682-5422) to schedule your chimney inspection and sweep service.

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.