Creosote. It’s that dark, tarry substance that can build up in your chimney. It doesn’t go away on its own and, because it’s a combustible, it can become a hazard if left unchecked.

So, what’s the best way to get rid of it? Are the creosote sweeping logs that are readily available on the market useful for the task? And while we’re at it, what exactly is creosote?

What Is Creosote?

black creosote in a flueCreosote is a by-product of burning wood. Smoke from your fire condenses, sticking to the inside of your chimney and producing stubborn creosote – a dark and sticky substance known for producing chimney fires.

Incomplete combustion is the main culprit, so you can be proactive about reducing creosote build up by using firewood that will burn really well. In other words, by burning only dry, well-seasoned wood so that your fires don’t generate a lot of smoke. One cause of smoky fires is using damp or green (freshly cut) wood so that the resulting fire needs to evaporate off moisture as it burns. Another cause is burning improper types of fuel, such as treated or painted wood. (This is also dangerous as it releases toxic chemicals into your living space.)

All that said, though, some creosote accumulation in your chimney flue is unavoidable, even with excellent, cured firewood. The only way to stop it is to stop using your fireplace altogether – and let’s face it, fireplace aficionados, that is not an option!

Thankfully, creosote can be removed – and should be removed routinely. Which leads us to our next question: do creosote sweeping logs work?

Creosote Sweeping Logs: Uses and Limitations

Creosote Sweeping Logs can be obtained in most big-box stores or online at a cost of around $20. They’re advertised to significantly reduce the build up of creosote, and they function as a chemical chimney cleaner. When the smoke from the burning creosote sweeping log comes into contact with creosote in a chimney, it’s designed to make the creosote flake off and fall.

wood logs burningHowever, since these logs have no control of directing flaked creosote, the loosened creosote can also collect in nooks and crannies in your flue, such as on the smoke shelf or in bends. In this regard, the creosote sweeping log has perhaps reduced and relocated your problem, but hasn’t removed it.

Long story short – while creosote sweeping logs can loosen creosote, they don’t actually eliminate it. Removing it will still require a professional touch, since the flaked creosote in your firebox will need to be swept up and carefully removed after burning a creosote sweeping log.

Don’t Forget Other Buildup

If a clear, unobstructed chimney is what you’re after, keep in mind that creosote logs have another limitation – they only work on creosote, not other potential obstructions such as debris that can find their way into your chimney thanks to gravity, wind, and neighborhood critters.

Again, while creosote sweeping logs are deemed acceptable to burn in your fireplace by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) when used properly, and while they may help manage creosote between sweepings, they should never replace regular, professional chimney sweepings.

The Benefits of Professional Chimney Sweepings

Because creosote sweeping logs don’t actually rid your chimney system of creosote and soot or remove other types of blockages, professional chimney services are still necessary. Why always hire a pro?

  • A qualified sweep will have an arsenal of tools to tackle the job, and more importantly will have the knowledge and experience to finish the job thoroughly and successfully.
  • Professional chimney sweepings remove blockages of all sorts, reducing the risk of chimney fires and of smoke or hazardous gases being pushed into your living space as the result of poor ventilation.
  • A chimney sweep is a significant, expert line of defense against system damage and deterioration. A trained eye can spot early signs of break-down, cracking, or leaks.

In short, trusting an expert for your sweepings and getting them done early can save you lots of money… but you can only address them if you know they exist!

Trust Us for Your Chimney Services

In short, do creosote logs work? They do have some effect and can be useful between professional sweepings. But do they live up to any claims they might make about actually cleaning your chimney? Not really.

Creosote may be loosened, but not eliminated. Creosote sweeping logs are insufficient as a means of keeping your system properly swept and clear. Relying on them to keep your chimney in prime safe, useful order is detrimental to the wellbeing of your home and its inhabitants. There are serious hazards that will remain unaddressed if creosote logs are your primary source of chimney care. 

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that an annual chimney inspection by a qualified professional is vital – regardless of what else you’re doing to keep your chimney system running smoothly.

Safety and professionalism are our priorities. If you have questions or concerns about your chimney system, if it’s time to schedule a sweeping and inspection, or if you’re considering an upgrade, you can trust us to put your needs first and dedicate ourselves to the details!

Call or book online today.

Northeastern Masonry & Chimney
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