How to Prevent Creosote Buildup

According to the National Fire Protection Association, creosote buildup is the cause for most fireplace and chimney fires. Creosote buildup can be pretty sneaky since it occurs over time and you may not notice it. But there are some things you can do to minimize creosote buildup to help keep your family safe. (Unfortunately, you can’t eliminate creosote entirely.)

  •  Never burn unseasoned firewood. Only burn wood that’s been allowed to dry in an open outside area for 6 to 12 months before you use it in your fireplace. Unseasoned firewood contains water which causes steam to form as you burn it. The steam cools your chimney, causing the smoke or gases in the fire to condense and creosote to form. Use a moisture meter to help you determine if your firewood is ready for burning. Test the inside of the log which holds moisture longer than the outside.
  •  Don’t burn artificial logs in your fireplace. These packaged logs create a lot of combustion gases which can leave creosote deposits inside your flue.
  •  Burn hot fires rather than slow-burning, smoldering fires. When starting a fire, arrange the firewood with modest gaps in between the logs for better airflow and a cleaner burn. Don’t close glass or ceramic fireplace doors too soon before the fire is burning hotly. Shut doors can restrict air flow which can lead to creosote deposits on the inner walls of your flue. So keep your doors open for better air flow.
  •  Warm your flue before you build a fire if your chimney is made of metal or on an outside wall of your home since it will likely be colder due to colder outside temperatures. Roll up a piece of newspaper, light it and hold it under the open damper until you feel the air getting warmer and the draft reserve. A cooler flue can lead to poor combustion and a greater amount of creosote buildup.
  •  If you have an older fireplace insert that’s vented into a masonry chimney, have a chimney professional, like those at T.J.’s Chimney Service, inspect your flue to make sure it’s sized correctly. Flues that are too large can cause smoke to hang around in the chimney longer than it needs to, leading to creosote buildup.
  •  Contact T. J’s Chimney Service and schedule an annual chimney inspection and cleaning. While you could buy chimney brushes and clean your chimney yourself, it can be a time-consuming and dirty task. Plus, you may not be sure you cleaned your chimney thoroughly enough. So hire a professional to do it from the get-go. You’ll be glad you did. Because not only will you save the life of your chimney, you’ll be saving the lives of your family from a potential house fire.