Creosote: A Natural But Dangerous Byproduct Of Combustion
Our first concern when sweeping a chimney is to rid it of creosote deposits. The simplest explanation of creosote is that it’s a deposit that builds up on your flue as a result of condensation, as the hot gases from your fire meet the cooler flue surface.
The burning process turns the carbohydrates in wood into hydrocarbons, and while most of these burn, some get mixed with the hot gases in your chimney. The result of this mix is what is often referred to as “tar fog” or “dense smoke.” This tar fog settles on the chimney walls as thick, flammable creosote. Creosote varies in some ways — sometimes it looks tar-like, puffy or crusty, but it’s always highly combustible.
A fireplace was designed to contain flames, but fire isn’t supposed to reach above the damper and up through the smoke chamber and flue. If creosote ignites in the flue, the damage to your chimney system and home can be considerable, from cracking of the flue liner to combustion within the walls of your home.
Even small chimney fires that ignite and don’t get enough oxygen to last can cause significant damage to your chimney. And if you use a chimney after a chimney fire, the likelihood that another chimney fire could reach combustible parts of your home skyrockets.
Having your chimney regularly swept by a CSIA-certified Coopertown Services technician can keep creosote at bay, and minimize your chances of having a flue fire.
When Do I Need To Have My Chimney Swept?
According to the National Chimney Sweeping Guild (NCSG), the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), all residential chimneys should be inspected annually and swept if creosote deposits have a thickness of one eighth inch or more. The timeframe can vary depending on how often your appliance is used — roughly a cord of wood burned in an average chimney under normal circumstances will produce an eighth inch of creosote.
Most homeowners have their chimney swept annually, which allows chimney technicians to get a clear image of the state of the system and identify problems in the early stages.
Coopertown Services has been sweeping chimneys in Shelby County since 1978, so we know what to do and how to do it. You can count on us to keep your chimney clean, and to keep your home and family safe and warm.
Is it time to schedule your annual chimney sweeping? Call Coopertown Services at 901-358-7777 or click here to schedule an appointment!