Lighting a fireplace adds warmth and coziness to a home. The crackling sound of a roaring flame accompanied by the pleasant aroma of burning firewood increases the feeling of relaxation while sitting around the hearth.
However, as woods do not burn cleanly, they produce combustion byproducts that settle on the chimney liner walls after cooling known as creosote. This substance takes several forms in three distinct stages and is identified as the leading cause of chimney fires by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
Minor buildup or first-degree creosote is characterized by a high percentage of soot and can be cleaned with a chimney brush. Moderate buildup or second-degree creosote looks like shiny black corn flakes that are not as easy to clean as first-degree creosote.
The last stage of creosote accumulation, also known as severe buildup, is the most difficult to remove. It looks like tar coating on the chimney liner walls, and it is considered extremely concentrated fuel.
Conditions like cool chimney temperatures, restricted airflow, and the use of unseasoned firewood enable creosote accumulation.
Its thickness determines when the chimney should be cleaned. A paper-thin layer of creosote does not require cleaning. However, accumulations with widths of 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch should be removed to prevent a chimney fire.
Chimney cleaning is essential for the home’s safety, especially in New York, where chimney hazards cause most residential structure fires. Chimney and roofing contractors in Suffolk County can help residents fix the entire structure if the damage extends to the roof.
Hiring a chimney sweep in Suffolk County, NY, to annually assess and thoroughly clean the chimney helps in maintaining its structural soundness. However, this does not guarantee that problems will not occur between yearly inspections.
Below are DIY chimney cleaning tips homeowners can perform for minor maintenance measures to optimize its utility.