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Cap clogged with creosote.

When wood burns, the carbon in the wood turns to carbon dioxide and floats up the chimney. Other substances in the wood do not burn. They are carried aloft by the heated air and are deposited on the chimney walls as the air carrying them cools.  Creosote is a tarry, black byproduct of burning wood. Creosote is a shiny, difficult-to-remove substance which forms hard deposits. (Soot, a related substance, is a powder-like form of carbon. It is created through incomplete combustion of wood.)

If a chimney is not regularly swept, creosote (and soot) build up on the walls of the chimney in thickening layers. This can make the chimney smell bad, as creosote smells awful when wet. Creosote buildup can even block the chimney flue, making it difficult for the chimney to vent. This can lead to a buildup of toxic gases (such as carbon monoxide) in the home when the fireplace is used. Creosote is also flammable. Large creosote deposits can ignite and cause a chimney fire.


How Do You Remove Creosote?

Creosote, soot, and other deposits should be cleaned from your chimney annually, at the end of the burning season, to keep your chimney and fireplace in top working condition. The easiest way to clean your chimney is to have a chimney sweep clean it for you! They have the tools and equipment required to deal with the tight spaces and potentially toxic chemicals found inside a chimney. The best chimney sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.


How Do I Prepare For A Chimney Sweep?

  • • Do not use the fireplace for 24 hours prior to the sweep, to let the area cool down. Masonry inside fireplaces can store heat for a long time — even if there is not an active fire burning, the chimney and fireplace can still be hot.
  • • Move furniture and other items away from the fireplace. Our technicians need about 6′ of space in front of the fireplace to use their equipment. Don’t worry about dirt — we have a no-mess guarantee.
  • • On the day of the sweep, keep children and pets away from the room the fireplace is in. This is for their safety and ours!
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