Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Understanding Creosote

   If you have a fireplace or a wood stove, chances are you've heard the word "Creosote", but what exactly is it?
    In essence, creosote is condensed smoke. It comes from the incomplete combustion of the oils in the wood. As the smoke rises through the chimney, it cools, causing water, carbon, and volatiles to condense on the interior surfaces of the chimney flue.
   Creosote is black in appearance with an oily and gummy texture.
   Over time, creosote deposits can become several inches thick, creating a compound problem. The increasing accumulation can reduce the airflow through the chimney, which will prevent the fire from burning hot enough. It will send more smoke that will condensate throughout the flue adding another layer of creosote.
   The most important fact to remember about creosote is that it is highly combustible.
   73% of heating fires and 25% of all residential fires in the United
States are caused by failure to clean out creosote buildup. 

   When creosote ignites, the result is a chimney fire that often spreads to the main building because the chimney gets so hot that it will ignite any combustible material in direct contact with it, such as wood framing around the chimney.
   As dangerous as creosote is, regular preventive maintenance in the form of sweepings done by a chimney professional to remove the buildup, is enough to ensure the safety of your home. Yearly checkups are a must when you own a fireplace or a wood stove in order to assess the condition of the system.
   In the event that a sweeping alone does not reduce the risk of a chimney fire adequately, chemical treatments come into play.
   Due to the strength of the chemicals, this is a job best left for chimney professionals.
   The treatments are applied on a weekly basis, giving the chemicals time to breakup the buildup, which is then removed by sweeping the flue with scraping brushes.
  Creosote is also responsible for the smoked ham smell present on humid summer days.
  If you'd like to learn whether your system is at risk, call the professionals at Paul's Chimney Cleaning & Restoration.

Paul's Chimney Cleaning & Restoration LLC
Contribution by Javier A. Robayo

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