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Creosote Removal

Part of enjoying a fire is contending with the mess that comes with it. Wood fires naturally produce ash, soot, creosote, smoke, and more. The chimney system works constantly to vent these harmful byproducts from the home. However, over time the chimney can become coated with soot and creosote. When soot and creosote are left to build up in the chimney flue, it can lower efficiency. This causes increased fire risks and health concerns. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) routine chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections in order to maintain the highest levels of chimney safety and efficiency.

Soot Versus Creosote

Creosote Removal img - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsSoot is a powdery substance that is easily removed by standard tools during a chimney sweep. Creosote is black or brown like soot, but appears crusty or flaky. It is made up of tar and melts as it heats up. It appears drippy and sticky, then it cools into a hard and shiny mass. Creosote is highly flammable and becomes more so as it heats and cools repeatedly. As creosote continues to buildup in the flue, and transforms into this hard mass, it only worsens, resulting in a flue fire.

Glazed Creosote

When creosote has been left in the chimney flue long enough to buildup and become shiny and hard it is called glazed, or level three creosote. Level three is considered highly flammable and dangerous. If you have a level three buildup your chimney will not pass a CSIA chimney inspection and failing to keep your chimney working properly will shorten its life.

Creosote in the chimney can restrict airflow, causing even more creosote to build up in the chimney flue. When airflow slows down in the chimney, the draft doesn’t pull the vapors and smoke up and out of the chimney properly. As the airflow slows, the soot, creosote, and sparks stall in the chimney along with the air. The sparks can easily ignite the creosote on the flue walls.

Removal

If your chimney expert recommends glazed creosote removal, this is a serious problem that should be addressed. Glazed creosote removal is more complicated than a standard chimney sweep in which a technician cleans away soot and creosote with brushes and a vacuum system. Glazed creosote can’t be brushed away, however, Pristine Sweeps specializes in its removal. All of our certified chimney sweeps are trained in the use of specially-formulated chemical cleaning products designed to remove glazed creosote. These products create a reaction that changes the texture of the creosote for easier removal. During your chimney appointment the glazed creosote becomes flaky and easier to remove with chimney sweeping tools.

Prevention

It is important to hire a professional to remove dangerous creosote from your chimney in order to keep your family safe and warm. This type of service takes more time and money than a standard chimney sweep and can be completely avoided. Creosote is a natural byproduct of your fire, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. Some conditions encourage a creosote buildup including restricted air supply, improper fuel, and cool chimney temperatures.

To find out more about creosote and chimney fires click here or call Pristine Sweeps at 206-574-8414.

The Dangers Of Chimney Sweeping Logs

There are dozens of products on the market today that claim to make it easier for homeowners to maintain their fireplace systems. While the ease of use – and low prices – of these products may be tempting, they can in no way replace the services of a professional certified chimney sweep. One such product that claims to replace your chimney sweep is chimney sweeping logs.

The Dangers Of Chimney Sweep Logs - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

How chimney sweeping logs claim to work

As advertised, chimney sweeping logs seem like a fast, cheap, and easy way to clean your chimney and avoid having it professionally swept. Chimney cleaning logs claim to reduce the amount of creosote in the chimney system; as the log is burned, the smoke generated loosens the creosote and allows it to fall down into the firebox. When the log has been burned, the creosote can safely be swept up with the remaining soot and ash.

If these claims seem too good to be true, it’s because they are. Chimney sweeping logs do not clean as advertised and may end up doing more harm than good to your chimney.

Most flues are not built in straight vertical lines; in addition to a bend at the smoke shelf, some flues have additional turns and curves as they vent to the outside. Unfortunately, this means that the creosote loosened by the chimney sweeping log may not actually make it to the firebox; instead, it can accumulate on the smoke shelf or in the bends of the flue.

Because creosote is extremely flammable, having it accumulate anywhere in the flue can increase the risk of chimney fire. Likewise, creosote stuck in the bends of the flue or on the smoke shelf can be difficult to clean and remove without professional assistance.

Chimney sweeping logs can’t replace professional chimney sweeps

While chimney sweeping logs claim to clean your chimney, they are no substitute for the services of a professional chimney sweep.

“I usually tell people using one of those logs instead of having your chimney cleaned manually is like chewing Dentyne instead of brushing your teeth,” said Allan Bopp of Bald Eagle Enterprises. “It may help a little, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.”

In addition to correctly and completely removing soot, ash, and creosote from the flue, professional chimney sweeps can also inspect and evaluate your chimney system. Because so much of the chimney is nearly impossible to see or inaccessible from the ground, it is important to work with a professional who can inspect these hard to reach areas of the chimney – as well as understand what they are looking at. Certified chimney sweeps can evaluate the condition of your entire chimney system; in many cases, they can help spot small areas of deterioration before it turns into major damage.

When it comes to chimney maintenance, nothing can replace the expertise of a certified chimney sweep. Instead of trusting your family’s health and safety to a $20 log from a big box store, trust the experts at Pristine Sweeps to care for your fireplace and chimney system. Contact us today to schedule your next chimney sweeping appointment.

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