Creosote: How It Builds In Your Chimney & What You Can Do

Fireplace safety is vital to your family and home’s well-being, but do you really understand? In addition to having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors placed fifteen feet from the fireplace, you need to consider chimney safety. Why? One word- creosote. So let’s look at understanding creosote buildup: risks and solutions. 

stage one creosote buildup in chimney in Prairie Village KSWhat is Creosote?

When you burn organic materials such as wood or plants, a chemical byproduct called creosote is produced. It is a combination of tar and other chemicals that sticks to the inside of your chimney and creates a buildup. Over time, there can be quite a creosote buildup inside your chimney.

Why is a Creosote Buildup Unsafe?

Creosote is an extremely flammable substance, and it becomes more dangerous the more there is of it. A hot ember could float upwards and land on the buildup that could spark a chimney fire. The fire may not be confined only to your chimney; it could also spread to your roof and attic, eventually to your whole home. Creosote burns and spreads quickly, giving you little time to escape your house. Creosote is responsible for some twenty-five thousand chimney fires in the United States annually. 

The Three Stages of Creosote Buildup

The First Stage of Creosote Buildup

In the first stage of buildup, a thin coating of creosote flakes begins to build from smoke, making contact with the chimney’s interior. 

The Second Stage of Creosote Buildup

In this buildup stage, creosote takes on a tar-like appearance and becomes harder to remove. In this stage, you can still save your chimney and fireplace.

The Third Stage of Creosote Buildup

In the last stage of creosote, the buildup is thick and restricts air movement, giving you less efficient burns and an increased chance of a chimney fire. By this stage, removing the creosote is much more difficult, and you will probably require a new liner.

How Do I Prevent Creosote Buildup?

The best way to prevent a creosote buildup in your chimney is to have a qualified chimney service inspect and clean it at least once a year. Removing creosote from your chimney will exponentially reduce the chance of a fire. It will also increase airflow so you can have a more efficient burn. If you use your fireplace often, you may want to have it cleaned every few months to prevent creosote from building up.

cleaning and removing creosote in chimney in Shawnee KSAnother way you can reduce creosote buildup is to burn hardwood like oak, birch, and hard maple. These types of wood produce more heat and produce less creosote. They may cost a little more, but you can’t put a price on your family’s safety.

You should also ensure the wood you use is seasoned because it will produce less smoke. 

Fluesbrothers Can Remove Creosote

Our chimney techs can come to your home and inspect and clean your chimney to remove dangerous creosote buildups. Call us today at 913-236-7141 or fill out our contact form if it’s been some time since your chimney has been cleaned. One of our chimney experts will gladly answer any questions about scheduling an appointment. Get creosote out of your chimney now and prevent chimney fires.