Creosote, tar, and soot are byproducts of burning wood that does not burn completely, or without enough heat. The smoke from the burning wood contains the creosote, a black, tarry substance. As the smoke flows up the chimney, some of the creosote cools and sticks to the surface of the chimney lining. If the creosote is left to build up over a long period of time, it could cause a chimney fire. Chimney inspections and sweeping should be done annually, or sooner depending on how often the fireplace is used. Chimneys are used by wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, and gas, oil, and coal heating systems. They all need to be inspected and cleaned from time to time, and you can trust the professionals who do chimney cleaning in Roswell, GA, to have the expertise to provide quality service in your home.
Three Levels of Creosote
Level 1 creosote is the typical black soot or light powder that adheres to the inside of the chimney and firebox. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the most thorough way to get the chimney cleaned. He or she can also do chimney repair, and look for other unsafe conditions that might be a fire hazard to your home.
Level 2 creosote is more difficult to remove. The creosote has solidified into shiny, hard, black flakes. The cleaning takes more than a brush to sweep it away. Usually more powerful tools are needed, such as rotary loops or drills to remove the hardened flakes.
Level 3, or glazed creosote, is the most serious and hard to remove creosote. It occurs when the previous layer of creosote hasn’t dried, and the thick, tarry substance accumulates over the previous layer. As it hardens, it forms a hard glaze that can damage the flue and chimney structure, and poses a dangerous fire hazard. It takes special chemicals or acids to remove level 3 creosote, along with more time and patience. At times the entire lining of the chimney needs to be replaced because of severe buildup of glazed creosote. A fireplace repair service can advise you regarding repairs needed due to glazed creosote.
How to Avoid Creosote Buildup
Be sure to burn only seasoned wood. Green wood, or wood that hasn’t had sufficient time to dry out, contains too much moisture. The wood will light, but more of the heat is spent evaporating the moisture instead of warming your home. The moisture in green wood will create smoke and more creosote as it burns. This can cause long-term problems with your fireplace’s flue. Know what to look for if you buy wood, and you’re unsure whether your wood is seasoned or green. Green wood won’t show any cracks on the cut ends, and the bark will be firmly attached. The edges of the bark will sizzle or bubble when placed in the fire as the moisture is forced out. Slow, smoldering fires don’t heat the flue hot enough to discourage the buildup of creosote. Seasoned firewood should be dried a minimum of six months.
Some Safety Tips for Burning Wood in a Fireplace
If possible, crack open a window while the fire is burning. Be sure to open the damper all the way before starting the fire, and keep it open until the last ember dies out. Use seasoned wood or specialized burning logs in your fireplace, and keep a fire extinguisher close by. Smaller pieces of wood burn faster with less smoke. Clean out ashes regularly to an inch or less for proper air flow to the logs. Never leave a fire unattended, and always use a screen to prevent embers from flying into the room. Contact the team at Atlanta Chimney Doctor to learn more about cleaning options!