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Everything & More You Need To Know About Creosote

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.

CSIA Certification-Why It’s Important When Choosing A Chimney Sweep

Top Notch Chimney Sweep & Service is dedicated to providing home owners with the absolute best service. That means when you contact us, we not only provide you an excellent customer experience, but you know our chimney and venting technicians have the training, skills, and certification needed to protect the health and safety of your family and home. When we opened Top Notch in 2002 we recognized the importance of having our technicians go through the CSIA training and certification program and stay certified through continuing education courses and yearly re-certification. It’s important to us, and it’s important to you.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing those in the chimney industry the training and education necessary to prevent chimney and venting fires. CSIA is the only organization in the country offering certification programs to foster and facilitate the knowledge and expertise needed to properly care for your chimney and venting. CSIA sets the industry standards to protect home owners and ensure those calling themselves a “chimney sweep” truly have the proven and verifiable credibility to properly do what they say they are going to do.


What does CSIA certification mean?

Peace of mind in knowing that you are doing business with a chimney professional is why CSIA certification is so important. When both a technician and company commit the time, expense, and motivation to go through the CSIA certification process it means they take their role as a chimney professional very seriously. That translates to your peace of mind. When your health and safety are at stake you need to know you are doing business with someone you can trust.

CSIA certification means the technician has gone through and passed a rigorous education and certification process focused on proper evaluation and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. In order to receive their certification, technicians have intensive study along with written exams and hands-on testing of tools, techniques, residential codes, health and safety considerations, the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) 211 Standards , and other relevant topics to provide the best in home service to customers. Technicians with the CSIA certification are a measure of the standards of the chimney service you are about to do business with and allow into your home.

Many people don’t realize the complexity of their chimney and household venting systems. Your chimney and venting are designed to channel hazardous smoke, flammable debris, and toxic gasses out of your home. When there is flammable residue, leaks, or masonry cracks the result can mean water damage to the integrity of your structure, fire risks, and toxic gas poisoning…things that aren’t apparent to the untrained until it’s too late.

CSIA and Top Notch don’t want these hazards go undetected in your home because you didn’t follow the CSIA recommendations to have yearly inspections and cleaning or you don’t use a qualified professional chimney sweep.Our CSIA certified technicians are trained to know what potential problems to look for and have the expertise needed to correct the problem before you have serious consequences.

Since you are reading this, you already have an interest in protecting your home and family. Don’t waste your time, money, or gamble and put yourself at risk by trying to do business with someone who has not committed to being the best chimney company and not earned their CSIA certification. We don’t want you to be one of the folks who have to learn the hard way and fall victim to fly by night companies claiming to know about chimney maintenance and repairs but have no proven credentials.

Top Notch remains dedicated to providing our customers with expertise, efficiency, and excellent results on every service call we make. We are proud that our technicians are CSIA certified and are available to serve you. That’s what distinguishes us in the market place. It’s our commitment to providing our customers with the absolute best service and i’s why we continue to attract new customers and build our loyal customer base. Contact us today for all your chimney and related needs!

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