Why is Creosote Dangerous?

March 9, 2017

09If you own a fireplace, you’ve probably heard of creosote. Most people know creosote is the stuff that clogs up a chimney, but not much more beyond this simple understanding. Creosote is a dangerous substance, but exactly why is it dangerous? We will dive a little deeper into explaining what creosote is, why it is dangerous, and what you should do about creosote in your chimney.

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What is Creosote?

Creosote is the by-product of burning wood in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When you burn wood in a fireplace or wood stove at a lower temperature, it releases natural oils in the wood which we call volatiles. These volatiles eventually lead to an oily, tar-like, black substance that sticks to the side of a chimney which we call creosote.

How Does Creosote Form?

When you burn wood, some by-products can be released into the air such as wood oils. These by-products rise up the chimney in the smoke and are supposed to exit your home. Sometimes, the smoke can cool in chimneys with inadequate air-flow and condense. If these by-products condense, they attach to the side of the chimney forming what is known as creosote.

Why is Creosote Dangerous?

Creosote is dangerous simply because it will be an on-going problem that builds up and clogs your chimney. The more creosote, the faster it will build up. A clogged chimney reduces air-flow and can cause smoke from the fire to backtrack into the home. Creosote is also dangerous because it is a combustible material and if it catches fire can lead to a dangerous chimney fire that could spread to the whole home.

How to Prevent Creosote

Creosote can be prevented by having your fireplace first installed by an experienced fireplace installation company. They will be able to install the correct size and type of chimney and flue for your home. You see, your chimney isn’t simply just a hole in your roof, it’s a complex system. If a chimney isn’t properly installed, it can lead to inadequate air flow which leads to creosote build-up. Additionally, it’s important to only burn properly seasoned wood as new woods have more oils present.

How to Clean Creosote

Chimney cleaning is best left to a trained Maryland chimney sweeping company. With proper upkeep and regular chimney cleaning, you can prevent the build-up of more dangerous levels of a creosote. The most basic type of creosote is easy to clean off and the least dangerous. If creosote is left un-checked, it can cake-on over the years and create dangerous amounts of creosote that are harder to clear out.

Fireside Stone and Patio is a Maryland fireplace installation company who also performs fireplace repair and services. We have the experience and skill to properly install a fireplace in your home that reduces the amount of possible creosote build-up. For more information, give us a call at 410-203-2876 or fill out the form on our website today!