Wood burning appliances such as fireplaces, inserts, and stoves are more efficient than ever. Because wood is a better option to supplement home heating needs, more and more people are using wood-burning appliances. A wood-burning appliance can bring warmth and an ambiance that is hard to beat. However, there are some precautions that must be taken if you own a wood-burning appliance. A natural byproduct of the wood-burning process called creosote can build up on the inside of your chimney and become a hazard. At TN Fireplace and Chimney, we want to let you know why creosote accumulates in your chimney and what you can do to remove and minimize creosote buildup in your chimney system.

What is creosote?old abandon chimney on roof

Creosote is a natural byproduct of burning fuel. A lot of fuel sources, such as natural gas and propane, also produce creosote. But, wood and coal tend to produce more than other fuel sources. When wood is burned, it releases smoke, soot and a mixture of gases. Generally, the cooler a fire burns, the more of these byproducts that are produced. If a fire is burning less than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, byproducts will be produced. When this happens, these gases will cool and condense on the inside of your chimney. This condensation will cool into a dark sticky substance called creosote.

The hazards of creosote.

Creosote can be hazardous because it is combustible, meaning that is can catch on fire if it gets hot enough. It takes high temperatures to ignite creosote, but if it does start a fire, it can be nearly impossible to put out. It takes as little as an eighth of an inch of creosote buildup in your chimney for it to pose a threat to you and your home. Creosote fires are, unfortunately, somewhat common. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that there are approximately 14,000 creosote fires per year which account for nearly 22 percent of all home heating fires, causing $35 million annually in property damage. This is why it is important to take measures to protect yourself from creosote buildup.

How to stay safe from creosote

You can’t prevent creosote from forming inside your chimney, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself from creosote accumulating to a point where it is a fire hazard. Most importantly, you should have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) chimney sweep. An annual inspection will allow you to know how fast creosote is accumulating in your chimney and will make sure that it is staying at safe levels.

Although creosote is a hazard, if you use precaution and practice good maintenance habits, you can be sure that your chimney is safe to operate every fall and winter. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your chimney inspected and swept, now is a great time to call TN Fireplace and Chimney for an annual inspection. Our experienced chimney sweeps will make sure your chimney is ready for winter. Call us now before the autumn rush at (865) 922-2262 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!