After a hard day of work, nothing is quite so cozy as curling up in front of a warm, crackling fire, maybe watching your favorite movie or TV show, maybe reading a good book. When you’re all tired out, you want nothing more than to let those worries go while you relax before turning in for a good night’s sleep. But one thing can mar those relaxing evenings more completely than anything else: a chimney fire.

Creosote Build-up: Your Worst Nightmare

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the biggest cause of cause of chimney fires is creosote build-up. Creosote is a by-product of burning wood in your fireplace. By-products, such as tar fog, unburned wood particles, water vapor, smoke, and gases, are released when you burn wood in your fireplace. As the warm air of the fire is guided out of your chimney, it hits the cold surface towards the top of your chimney. When it hits this cool surface, it condenses and forms creosote. Creosote can be black or brown, crusty and flaky or tar-like, sticky, and drippy, or even hard and shiny. No matter what it looks like, this creosote is a big problem because it is extremely flammable.

So what conditions cause creosote build-up? One contributing factor is using unseasoned wood. Unseasoned wood has a higher percentage of water, and that makes for a smokier fire that doesn’t burn as hot. This causes creosote to build up more quickly. According to Mother Earth News, when you build a smoldering fire rather than a hot fire, up to 48% times more creosote can build up then when a hot flaming fire is burned. Another method of assuring that your fire burns hotter, and therefore cleaner, is by burning a harder wood.

When you’re burning your fire in a wood stove, if you overload the firebox you will encourage a thicker creosote build-up. Also, never burn paper garbage in your fireplace or wood stove because this could cause increased sparks that could trigger a chimney fire.

Cleaning the Creosote

The best preventative measure you can take to avoid creosote build-up is to have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. The CSIA website states, “Clean chimneys don’t catch fire.” When you leave your annual inspection in the hands of CSIA certified sweeps such as those at Copper Top Chimney Service, you can know that you will getting the highest quality work and service that is unmatched. CSIA certified sweeps are trained to assess any damage that your chimney may have undergone over the course of the winter and recommend any necessary repairs. Another little known fact is that chimney fires aren’t always easily detectable; having your chimney inspected on an annual basis will ensure that a fire hasn’t taken place, or, if it has, your chimney inspector will be able to explain the necessary repairs which need to take place or even recommend if a rebuild is necessary.

Call Copper Top Chimney Service

If you’re ready to relax and let someone else worry about keeping your chimney clean and safe, give the experts at Copper Top Chimney a call today!