You keep your home and your body clean, so why should your chimney be any different.  Even though the temperatures are getting hotter, you should not neglect your chimney’s maintenance.  Every year you should have a chimney sweep and inspection by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified technician.  To schedule your appointment call Northeastern Masonry and Chimney.

What is creosote?

Creosote is extremely flammable. This is one reason sweeps remove it during your annual chimney inspection.

Creosote is extremely flammable. This is one reason sweeps remove it during your annual chimney inspection.

Creosote is a sticky substance created when firewood burns that will clump together and eventually block your chimney.  This occurs more heavily when you burn wood that is not treated.  Other than through your chimney, you can ingest creosote through your food and water.  This will cause a burning sensation inside of your mouth.  Children are also extremely dangerous around creosote because they do not understand the harm.  When they play around the fireplace and creosote gets on their hands, they can then spread it when they rub their face or put their hands in their mouth.  People with health problems will experience worse symptoms if they come into contact with creosotes.  However, some medicines come with creosote as an ingredient, such as dandruff and psoriasis medication.

What damage can creosote cause?

Creosote can cause all kinds of chaos in your chimney.  If they clump together, they can eventually lead to draft problems.  This is when the air from the fire cannot properly exit the home.  When this happens you can be in danger for carbon monoxide poisoning.  Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be simple such as headaches and brief nausea to worse things such as difficulty breathing and fatality.  When this hot air builds up, it can also spark a chimney fire.

If you are forced to be around creosotes, take proper precaution.  Wear long clothes and accessories such as gloves and a mask.  When washing these clothes, make sure to keep them separate from everything else to keep them from spreading.  Having creosotes touch your skin can lead to serious skin irritation.

How to get rid of creosote? 

The most common way to get rid of creosote build up is to have a chimney sweep conduct an annual cleaning.  Professionals will come out to your house and have everything done for you.  Some important things to remember when preparing for your sweep are:

  • Do not burn a fire for at least 24 hours prior to the sweep.
  • Lock away all pets.
  • Move as much furniture and valuable items away from the fireplace as possible.