Creosote is one of the most dangerous things you can find inside of a chimney. And yet, it builds up naturally as you burn a fire in your fireplace. There are steps you can take to lessen the buildup and impact of creosote, a black, tarlike substance that is highly combustible. And you should also know what to look for to tell if your creosote problem is out of control.
What Is Creosote?
This thick substance develops as part of the combustion process—but it tends to develop when wood is not burned completely. Incomplete combustion occurs when the fire doesn’t get enough oxygen. Vapor then moves up the chimney along with the other byproducts of combustion, and it may stick inside the flue as it cools and condenses. As it is highly flammable, a chimney fire becomes much more likely if there’s a buildup of creosote inside of it.
How to Tell You Have Creosote
Whether or not you notice a major buildup of creosote in the chimney, we recommend calling a chimney sweep for an inspection and cleaning once or twice a year. But you might want to check for creosote buildup just to see how urgent the situation is.
- Gather your supplies. You should wear a face mask and goggles, and grab a flashlight and your fireplace poker.
- Check that it’s safe. Make sure there is a downdraft first. Put your hand in the fireplace and see that air is going up and not down. If there is a downdraft open a window or door to change the pressure in the home.
- Use your fireplace poker. Scratch the smoke chamber above your damper to see if there is any creosote. Even if the layer of tar seems very thin, it’s time to call a chimney sweep ASAP. If you have more than 1/8 of an inch of buildup, do not use the chimney until it is clean.
- Shine the light. Check the firebox and up through the flue, as far up as possible.
Call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. for your annual chimney cleaning and inspection in Minneapolis, MN. Call us today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS