Signs You May Have Creosote Build Up in Your Chimney
January 17, 2023at8:00 AM
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), your chimney should be professionally inspected and cleaned yearly. The reason is that keeping up with regular chimney maintenance and annual inspections decreases the risk of accidents, damage, and loss of life caused by chimney fires. Chimney fires can go undetected because they are often slow-burning and start inside the chimney. However, the fire can be potentially damaging and result in explosions, high flames, and dense smoke that could affect your entire home and put your family at risk.
This article will discuss the signs that you may have creosote build up in your chimney.
What is creosote?
Creosote is a black or brown residue that forms from wood-burning fires inside a fireplace. It can be crusty, flaky, drippy, sticky, shiny, or hard. Each form of creosote is highly flammable and combustible, making it unsafe. When creosote builds up in your home’s chimney or fireplace, it can cause damaging fires.
Typically, creosote is created when wood burns and smoke moves up the chimney and out of your home. The condensation from the rising heat sticks to the inside of the chimney. Creosote buildup increases when the air supply is restricted in the chimney, the temperature is cooler than normal, and unseasoned wood is used to make a fire. When too much buildup occurs, chimney fires can go undetected until they spread.
Signs of creosote buildup
Here are some signs of creosote buildup to look out for:
Reduced drafting in the fireplace
Less ash and more wood in the fireplace after a fire
Black soot in and around the fireplace
Very dark smoke from the chimney
Visibly see more than ⅛ of an inch of soot build-up
How to reduce the buildup of creosote
There are three main ways to ensure that creosote does not build up in your chimney. First, you will want to ensure your chimney has adequate airflow before you start a fire. To do this, open the chimney’s damper so the heated smoke can move up and out quickly. The longer the smoke is trapped inside your chimney, the more creosote can build up.
In addition, using unseasoned wood in an indoor fireplace can cause creosote buildup. This happens because unseasoned wood takes more energy to start and burn at first because water trapped inside the wood burns off. Overfilling your fireplace with wood can also increase creosote buildup.
In addition to these steps, you can also make sure that there is no creosote buildup by ensuring your chimney is inspected annually and keeping up with regular maintenance and cleaning.
How to know when it’s time to clean your chimney
Homeowners must schedule an annual chimney inspection and professional cleaning if needed. Here are some signs to look for to know if your chimney needs cleaning:
Black oily spots on the inside of the fireplace
Fires are harder to start and keep going
Animal or pest activity
More odor is coming from the fireplace than usual
The black, oily residue found in a chimney is creosote buildup. If there is too much built-up, it can hinder the escape of smoke from the fire and impact how well the fire burns.
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With over 20 years of experience, Capitol Chimney Services is the DC area’s one-stop specialist for all chimney repairs. We pride ourselves on our customer relationships and the personalized service we provide for each repair.
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