Whether your fireplace burns wood, gas, oil, or another fuel source, it is important to have it swept at least once per year as part of a regular maintenance plan. However, many homeowners – particularly those with gas fireplaces or who infrequently use their fireplace – wonder if an annual sweeping is absolutely necessary.

The primary purpose of an annual chimney sweeping is to remove soot, ash, and creosote buildup from the flue and venting system. This is an extremely important part of ensuring your fireplace burns safely and efficiently; without regular sweepings, buildup in the flue can cause damage to the venting system, chimney fires, and more.

What is creosote?

Creosote is a highly flammable, naturally occurring byproduct of combustion; while it is created in all fuel-burning fires in small amounts, wood burning fires produce the largest amounts of creosote. Creosote accumulates in the venting system over time, sticking to the walls and crevices of the flue. The longer it remains in the flue, the harder it is to remove.

The Importance of Removing Creosote

Creosote is more than just a hard-to-remove chimney nuisance; the presence of creosote in the flue creates serious safety hazards. There are three primary reasons why creosote should be removed.

  1. Chimney fires
    The primary cause of chimney fires is accidental ignition of creosote; creosote is responsible for more than 25,000 chimney fires in the United States each year. These kinds of chimney fires are caused when flames or high temperatures from a fire cause creosote buildup in the flue to ignite. Some signs of a chimney fire include:- Loud roaring or popping noises
    –  Visible flames from the top of the chimney
    –  Smoke or smoky odors in adjoining rooms or attics
    –  Glowing, red-hot connector
    –  Vibrating stove or connector
    –  Visible flames through cracks in the connector
    If you believe you have had a chimney fire, it is extremely important to contact a certified chimney sweep for an inspection before using the fireplace or stove again.
  2. Chimney corrosion
    In addition to being highly flammable, creosote is also acidic. Because of this, it can corrode chimney materials, including mortar, steel, clay tiles, and mortar connectors.
    Stage three creosote, also known as glazed creosote, has a hard, glassy finish that makes it extremely difficult to remove. It is important to have an experienced chimney sweep remove this level of creosote; because creosote is corrosive, there are often cracked flue tiles or missing mortar joints left behind when glazed creosote is removed.
  3. Creosote expansion
    When allowed to accumulate in significant amounts, creosote can expand when exposed to heat. In addition to leading to chimney fires, this can narrow the diameter of the flue, lowering draft, causing smoking problems, or even blocking the flue entirely.

Contact Us Today

Don’t let creosote accumulation in your flue lead to a dangerous chimney fire. Instead, contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps to safely sweep your flue and remove any creosote deposits.