While your fire burned all winter, it released byproducts that rose up and out of your chimney. Remnants of these materials coat the inside of your chimney flue, and result in a buildup if left unchecked. Soot and creosote will always coat the chimney flue when wood is burned, but there are a few things you can do to prevent a dangerous buildup.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
Soot and creosote can be removed easily before a buildup. Professional chimney sweeps are able to remove soot and creosote using tools including brushes and vacuums. If the creosote reaches state 3, or glazed creosote, it is more difficult and costly to remove. However, if you schedule a chimney sweep annually, your chimney expert will remove this residue before it becomes a problem. If the chimney sweep is neglected, however, efficiency drops, slowing airflow, and more residue is left in the flue as a result. As efficiency continues to drop, fire risk goes up, especially when glazed creosote coats the flue. Glazed creosote is made of mostly tar, so it is highly flammable.
Burn Only Properly-Seasoned Wood
All wood will produce creosote when it’s burned, but green wood produces more. Green wood doesn’t burn completely, resulting in more particulate matter and creosote. To decrease creosote, you should only burn properly seasoned wood. To season wood, it should be cut and left to dry for at least six months. Harder woods require more time. When it’s properly seasoned it should pull away from the bark, crack, and the color will dull.
Stop Smoldering Your Fire
If you frequently let your fire smolder overnight, you are most likely adding to the creosote in your chimney flue. Instead of letting your fire smolder, consider banking your coals for the night. To bank your coals you collect the coals and embers in one place, cover them with fuel (kindling and wood), then cover the whole thing completely in ashes. This will preserve your coals until morning, but it will not burn or or release creosote into the chimney.
Chemical Creosote Removers
There are chemical creosote removers on the market, even endorsed by manufacturers, and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has granted the Creosote Sweeping Log (CSL) CSIA Approved Product status. While these products can help prevent creosote buildup in your chimney, they are NOT to replace professional chimney sweeping. These products should only be used between chimney sweep appointments in which a trained and experienced professional cleans and assesses the chimney system. Neglecting these appointments puts your family, your chimney, and your home at risk.
When creosote reaches level 3, or glazed creosote, no creosote removal product, or even chimney sweep can remove it without special chemical products. Glazed creosote should be dealt with swiftly because it is highly flammable. There is a special process for removing glazed creosote from the chimney. It costs more and takes longer, but it can be removed without damaging your liner. A professional chimney sweep can have your chimney clean and operational again. Don’t hesitate to call.
Find out more about glazed creosote and your chimney system here, and call The Mad Hatter at 317.596.0200 to schedule your chimney sweep today.