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Everything & More You Need To Know About Creosote

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The most important information you need to know about creosote is that it is highly flammable and a dangerous health hazard. That’s why Top Notch Chimney Sweep & Services takes removing the creosote in your chimney and fireplace very seriously. In order to keep you safe and your home protected, Top Notch’s CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified chimney technicians are highly skilled at removing the creosote that builds up in your fireplace and venting. According to the National Protection Association “over 57% of home fireplace, chimney, and chimney connector fires involve failure to clean as a factor contributing to ignition”.


Creosote is produced when wood or fossil fuels are not completely burned. When the by-products of combustion–wood particles, smoke, gas, water vapor, hydro-carbons, and minerals–travel up the chimney, a black or brown sticky, gummy, flaky, and crusty substance that smells terrible is formed and coats the lining of your chimney and fireplace. The built up creosote is so dangerous because it is composed of highly flammable materials. Also, as the creosote cakes and builds up on the walls of your chimney flue, the passage way is narrowed causing hotter fires and greater combustibility.

The CSIA warns, “Certain conditions encourage the build up of creosote. Restricted air supply, unseasoned wood, and cooler than normal chimney temperatures are all factors that can accelerate the build up of creosote on chimney flue walls. Air supply may be restricted by closing the glass doors, by failing to open the damper wide enough, and the lack of sufficient make-up air to move the smoke up the chimney rapidly (the longer the smoke’s “residence time” in the flue, the more likely it is that creosote will form).”

The CSIA also reminds homeowners that using unseasoned wood in their fireplace or wood stove and overloading the firebox of a wood stove also substantially increase the amount of creosote that builds up. The moisture content of the wood greatly contributes to how fast creosote builds up. Wood containing a high moisture content adds to the rapid build up of creosote because its burning temperature is less than the condensation of the creosote gasses (approximately 212 degrees verses 250 degrees, respectively). The hotter the fire, the less creosote produced. In addition to being a fire hazard, creosote is also corrosive to your venting.

Throughout a normal year of using your fireplace or wood stove, several inches of creosote can build up and the more creosote that builds up the faster new build up attaches to the existing build up compounding matters. Pieces of this highly combustible matter can also come loose and be blown to your roof and ignite.

How long has it been since you have had the creosote buildup professionally removed from your chimney, flue and fireplace? Over a year? Two years? Longer? Scary to think about all the build up isn’t it? (And we bet you didn’t even know all the dangers associated with creosote build up.)

When you hire a CSIA certified chimney technician they have the professional tools and expertise needed to properly and thoroughly remove the built up creosote and other dirt and debris. Because of its toxicity and the complexity of the job, you don’t want to attempt to do it yourself. Each home has a different size chimney, placement, construction, flue size and pipe span that must be taken into consideration when cleaning. Also, due to the limited access to your entire venting system you need to have the proper equipment as well as structural knowledge to sure proper removal of all the creosote. Removing creosote is not something you want to leave undone or not done correctly and completely…there is just too much at stake.

When you call Top Notch Chimney Sweep & Services you will know we are the chimney professionals you can trust. We will thoroughly remove any build up, perform yearly inspections and make any necessary repairs so that you can enjoy the beauty and warmth of the fireplace without worrying about the potential hazards.