Wood burning heating appliances (e.g. wood-burning stoves and prefabricated fireplaces) have seen a resurgence in the home heating market for many reasons. Higher gas prices, “off-grid” living, and their ability to burn more efficiently are just some of the reasons. In addition to this, the home aesthetics that you can achieve with a real, wood-burning fire is highly sought after. However, there are some maintenance responsibilities that are associated with owning a wood-burning appliance. If these responsibilities are ignored, they create a hazardous situation in your home. Creosote, a natural byproduct of burning wood, is a fire hazard if not properly maintained. In fact, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that there are about 14,000 creosote fires a year. This annually accounts for nearly 22 percent of all home heating fires, causing $35 million annually in property damage.
Manage your creosote buildup with proper fire building techniques and annual chimney maintenance by the Chimney Guy.
What is creosote and why is it so dangerous?
Creosote is a natural byproduct of the fuel-burning process. Wood generally produces more creosote than other fuel sources such as gas and pellets. When wood is burned in a fire at less than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, it releases byproducts. Byproducts include smoke, soot and a mixture of other gases. These gases cool as they travel through the chimney and if they cool enough, they will start to condense on the inside of your chimney in the form of creosote. Wood that is drier and properly seasoned will burn at higher temperatures than wood that is wet and not seasoned. Therefore, seasoned wood produces less creosote.
Creosote is combustible, meaning it can catch fire. It takes very high temperatures to cause creosote to combust, but once it starts on fire, it is nearly impossible to extinguish. It doesn’t take much creosote buildup to become hazardous. If fact, it can take as little as ⅛ of an inch of creosote buildup in your chimney for it to become a combustion hazard. Another issue with creosote buildup is that, if left long enough, it can block up your chimney. This can cause all sorts of issues with your fireplace’s airflow and chimney’s exhaust.
Reduce your risk
Burning wood always produces creosote, so there is no way to totally prevent it from forming in your chimney. However, you can take steps to protect yourself from creosote becoming a fire hazard. The most important thing you need to do is have your chimney inspected by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) chimney sweep at least once a year.
At The Chimney Guy, our trained professionals will make sure that your chimney is creosote free and ready to operate when you need it. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your chimney swept, your home could be at risk. Don’t hesitate to call Green Bay and the Fox Valley’s number one chimney sweep, The Chimney Guy, at 920-830-1920 or schedule an appointment online to have your chimney inspected today. We look forward to helping you keep your home safe this fall and winter.