Your chimney keeps your family safe by constantly working to vent harmful byproducts from your fire. All of the parts of the chimney system work together to do this job, and to do it right. In some cases, even a well-constructed chimney can become less efficient, however, and this is when dangerous circumstances can occur.
Creosote is a natural byproduct of fire. It is made up almost completely of tar, so it clings to the walls of the chimney flue and interior parts of the chimney. When creosote is allowed to build up it can do so quickly, and lead to what’s called level three buildup, or glazed creosote. Glazed creosote is the worst type of creosote obstruction that you can have because
- It is highly flammable, and
- it is hard to remove.
Glazed Creosote and Your Chimney
Glazed creosote is not your ordinary chimney flue problem. Once the creosote has reached level three buildup, it isn’t as easy to remove as powdery soot and creosote. In fact, because of its tar-like properties, creosote is affected by high temperatures. During times of high heat, the creosote becomes gummy, melts into liquid, and evaporates. What’s left behind is a glossy, black substance that is highly concentrated fuel. When creosote has reached the glazed state, it is more difficult and costly to remove but is a necessity because it is only a matter of time before this concentrated fuel can be ignited by your fire resulting in a flue fire.
It’s ideal to avoid a creosote buildup altogether. You can avoid the danger and hassle of a creosote buildup by scheduling your routine inspections and chimney sweeps. Depending on the state of the creosote will determine how the chimney is cleaned.
Scheduling a routine sweep to remove soot and creosote is the best way to avoid a dangerous buildup. When Chimney Solutions cleans your chimney, our technicians use special tools and brushes to remove the soot and creosote from the firebox, damper, smoke chamber, and flue. The chimney sweep will predetermine if the flue needs extra attention due to creosote buildup.
If the creosote is gummy, our chimney sweeps have to use a chemical acid to make the substance pliable. Likewise, if the creosote is glazed, the sweep will use a similar product, a chemical powder, to transform the creosote into a substance that can be removed. Once the creosote is treated with the chemical products, it can be brushed and vacuumed away using standard chimney sweeping tools.
What You Can Do
Follow the recommendation of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) who recommends annual chimney inspections and routine chimney sweeps for the safer and more efficient chimney systems. A clean chimney means an efficient one. A dirty chimney quickly turns into a creosote buildup because a drop in efficiency creates more residue on the flue walls. Another way to create less creosote in the chimney system is to burn only properly seasoned wood. Burning too green wood means the wood doesn’t burn completely, resulting in more creosote.
To find out what else you can do for the best fire possible, click here. You can also call and speak with one of our chimney and fire experts at your convenience at 317-757-6979 or request your chimney sweep using our online scheduling tool.