When discussing chimneys, one of the topics that most people bring up is soot or creosote. Many people ask us when cleaning their chimney was "How dirty was my chimney?" The "dirt" that they are talking about is soot/creosote that forms in the chimney. Soot and/or creosote is produced when burning ANY type of fuel. It doesn't matter what kind of fuel that you burn, wood, oil, coal or even gas. The term "soot" is often used when talking about coal, oil and gas burning appliances, whereas "creosote" is often refered to when burning wood.
Soot/creosote is formed when burning any plant based or fossil fuel. When burning these fuels, incomplete combustion occurs. Then volatile compounds that are not burned go up the chimney in the form of smoke in a gas form. As the smoke goes up the chimney, it starts to cool down. This produces a distilling effect on the smoke in which those volatile compounds start to condense on the walls of the chimney or appliance. It is these condensed volatiles that form soot/creosote. Soot is often a black or brown powder that is easy to sweep off of the chimney's surfaces, while creosote is a shiny or tar/sticky substance that can be more difficult to clean off. Shiny hard or sticky creosote is often formed when there is a problem with the chimney system or in the way the fuel is being burned.
If you have any questions, or feel that you might have a chimney creosote problem, feel free to call Top Hat Chimney and Air Duct Cleaning in State College, PA. We would be happy to answer any of your questions about chimney soot or creosote!
The chimney sweep industry standard is to have your chimney or venting system checked every year, prior to burning your stove or fireplace. Your chimney may or may not have to be swept, but is vitally important to have your chimney checked for possible defects or damage that may have occured during the last burning season. If your chimney has a sufficient amount of soot or creosote build up, it is recommended to have the soot/creosote removed to avoid possible chimney fires or other damage to the chimney, fireplace or stove.
The soot/creosote in your chimney is flammable. When you burn your fireplace or stove, you are putting heat into the chimney. Along with heat, sometime burning embers or sparks can go up the chimney with the heat. When the amount of soot/creosote is sufficient, it is possible for the heat or sparks to ignite the creosote in the chimney. When this occurs it is what is called a chimney fire or flue fire. Chimney fires burn at extreme temperatures which can cause extreme damage the chimney system or nearby combustibles in the house structure. In addition to damage to the chimney, it is possible to have burning debris come out of the chimney top and land on the roof or nearby structures.
Having a chimney fire is often associated with flames coming out of the top of the chimney, a loud cracking or popping noise coming from the chimney or fireplace, black dense smoke or sometimes if it is big enough, we have heard reports of a "whistling" sound coming from the fireplace. This noise is due to the amount of air being pulled into the fireplace or stove in large volumes by the chimney fire.
Sometimes after a chimney fire has occured, damage can occure to the chimney lining system. When the clay tile liner is super-heated too fast, the "thermal shock" that is associated with it can cause the chimney liner to crack, split or collapse. If you have had a chimney fire and need a new liner installed call Top Hat Chimney today and have you chimney fixed by a Certified Chimney Reliner Company.
Soot or creosote is removed by having your chimney sweep brush or "clean" your chimney, fireplace, or stove. With powdered soot or even sometimes a light flaking soot, a metal or plastic chimney brush that is the same size or shape of your chimney flue is used by brushing the chimney up and down. In some cases your chimney sweep may use a powered brush on a drill or motor to remove the soot from your chimney.
In the case of a hard or sticky type of creosote, it is often cleaned out by special tools or chemicals. Sometimes a chemical treatment of some kind is needed to "pre-treat" the creosote before sweeping. In other cases, special powered chimney tools are needed to remove the creosote.
Top Hat preforms complete chimney repair and maintenence services. Chimney sweeping and inspections to chimney rebuilding, Top Hat should be your first choice.
Air Duct Cleaning can help you and your family breathe easier over time. Cleaning your air ducts helps remove dust, pollen, mold and other contaminants from your heating system.
Many people are unaware that a dirty or clogged dryer vent is a potential fire hazard in your home. Dryer vent fires are often more prevalent than chimney fires.
Chimneys sometimes need a little (or alot) of work done. Top Hat offers complete chimney masonry repairs. If your chimney needs a little maintenance or needs a full rebuilding, call Top Hat today.