When most people think of a chimney fire, they imagine dramatic flames shooting out of the flue with lots of thick, heavy smoke and loud cracking sounds that would be impossible to not know it was happening; however, the majority of chimney fires burn so slowly that they can Creosote Removal Image - Elkton MD - Ace Chimney Sweepsoccur without ever being detected until the chimney is later inspected. Although chimney fires can be started by various events, such as a lightning strike, most of them are caused by a buildup inside the flue of the natural compound creosote. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, the only way to ensure that your chimney is not at risk for a chimney fire occurrence is to have your chimney professionally swept at least once a year so that any accumulations of creosote can be removed. Since 1978, Ace Chimney Sweeps has provided professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services to the Chesapeake Bay region, and you can depend on our professional chimney sweeps to make sure that your family is safe and protected from dangerous hazards like chimney fires. We would like to tell you more about creosote and why it is so important to have it removed from your chimney every year. We will also share with you what you can expect from your annual professional chimney maintenance appointment with our team of qualified and experienced chimney sweeps.

What exactly is creosote and why is it so hazardous?

Whenever wood burns, creosote develops as a residue from smoke, gases, and other byproducts of combustion as they pass through the chimney. This residue sticks to the inner chimney walls, and if you use your fireplace regularly during the winter, you could have quite a bit of creosote accumulation that has built up over the season. Typically, creosote is either black or brown in color, but its texture can vary in its appearance. Whether it is crispy and flaky, gummy and sticky, or shiny and hardened, creosote is so highly combustible that many have named it as a leading cause of chimney fires. Not only is creosote extremely flammable, but it also has a strong, acrid odor that can worsen during the hot and humid days of summer.

How can I reduce the number of creosote deposits in my chimney?

Although the only way to remove creosote accumulations from your home is to have your chimney professionally swept, you can take some steps to decrease the development of this natural compound over the winter. Firstly, Ace Chimney Sweeps strongly recommends that you only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace. This type of wood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after it has been cut, and seasoned firewood will provide fires that are easier to start, provide more heat, and burn longer and cleaner. Freshly cut wood can have a moisture content as high as 45 percent, but seasoned wood should only be about 20 to 25 percent water. The moisture content makes a huge difference because when you try to burn freshly cut wood, the fire spends most of its energy-burning off the water, and this results in less heat provided to your home as well as a cooler chimney, which sets up the perfect environment for the accelerated development of creosote. Another factor that leads to more creosote in your chimney is restricted air supply, and this can occur when you close your fireplace doors and/or do not fully open the damper. There also will not be enough make-up air to help your chimney to properly draft, and this means that smoke will spend a lengthier time in the chimney than it should.

What can I expect from a professional chimney maintenance appointment with Ace Chimney Sweeps?

On the day of your appointment, one of our chimney professionals will arrive promptly to your home and begin by placing tarps and drop cloths over furniture and on the floor of your hearth area to protect your home from creosote, soot, and other debris from the sweeping process. Next, the chimney sweep will set up a high-powered vacuum inside the chimney to collect debris as specialized tools, such as rotating brushes on extended rods, are used to dislodge creosote and soot deposits from the chimney walls. As your chimney is being swept, our technician will check to see if there are any flue blockages or issues with the damper assembly, and after the chimney has been swept, he will inspect the condition of the bricks, mortar joints, and crown on the exterior of your chimney to make sure there is no masonry damage that could lead to water leaks or other problems. Before leaving, our chimney sweep will perform a smoke test by lighting a small fire in your fireplace to ensure that your chimney vents as it should.

Make sure that your chimney is not at risk for safety hazards or odor issues. Contact us today at Ace Chimney Sweeps to schedule your appointment for your annual professional chimney sweeping and inspection. You can count on us to make sure every bit of creosote has been removed from your chimney.