Chimney creosote buildup can become a safety hazard over time. When a fireplace is used, creosote is one of the components (aside from the ash) that is deposited in the chimney lining and flue. It is also highly flammable and can potentially become hazardous when using a fireplace. Although it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate creosote buildup, there are several ways to reduce it. Here are four ways you can minimize creosote buildup in your chimney.
1. Only Burn Dry, Seasoned Firewood
Freshly cut wood is packed with moisture, thus making it more difficult to burn. Additionally, it’s more likely to produce dense, black smoke filled with combustion by-products. It is this smoke that eventually turns into creosote. Your firewood should dry for at least 6 to 12 months in order to achieve a much lower moisture content. In short, the drier the wood, the less likely it will smoke and produce creosote. You can keep your wood dry by loosely covering it in a warm, sunny spot.
2. Avoid Smoldering to Minimize Chimney Creosote
In general, many homeowners allow their fire to smolder until it burns itself out. A fire that is left to smolder will produce large amounts of unhealthy smoke that can make fires less enjoyable. Additionally, the combustion materials can go up the chimney and onto the lining. Rather than letting the fire smolder, it should be extinguished once you are done with it.
3. Keep the Fire Hot
Fires at lower temperatures typically produce more creosote. Therefore, it’s important to build hot, clean-burning fires. This can be done by stacking firewood with enough space between the logs for oxygen to circulate. The less smoke your fires produce, the less creosote buildup you’ll have in your chimney.
Additional ways to increase the heat output from a wood fire include:
- Installing heat-retaining bricks in the fireplace to increase the temperature inside the burn area.
- Insulating a metal chimney pipe with bricks.
- Opening the chimney damper as wide as possible to increase the amount of air to the fire.
- Installing a fireplace insert.
4. Reduce Chimney Creosote with a Strong Airflow
When the airflow of a burning fire is restricted, the soot from the fire will concentrate and condense into smaller areas. You will likely see soot buildup on the sides of the glass doors of the fireplace. To reduce the chances of this from occurring, here’s what you can do:
- Open the damper so that more air gets into the fireplace.
- Use a metal fan or non-flammable blower to push more air into the damper.
- If there is a downdraft, try adding an insert with an inward curve to reduce the amount of downdraft that can get down the chimney.
More Tips from a Chimney Expert
When it comes to the safety of you and your family, don’t wait until a problem arises to have your chimney inspected. If you notice cracks, leaks, or other signs of deterioration, contact a chimney professional. The Chimney Expert has over 20 years of experience servicing Milwaukee chimneys. We provide high-quality chimney work from highly qualified chimney pros.
Contact us today!