Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

The Dangers Of Creosote

Think about your fireplace. Your mind probably goes to thoughts of cozy family get-togethers, gathered around a crackling fireplace. Who can resist the smell and sounds of a great wood fire? However, one word that no fireplace owner likes to think about is creosote! Although you may not like to spend a lot of time thinking about this unpleasant substance, it is something that needs to be taken care of. Fortunately, there are great companies like Santa’s Friend Chimney Service  that can take care of your creosote problems.

Creosote Buildup

Do you know what the smoke that rises from your fire is made up of? Included in that smoke is water vapor, benzene, carbon monoxide, acetic acid, formic acid, sulfur dioxide. Have you heard enough? The good news is that most of that smoke is guided right out of your chimney and into the outside air. The bad news is that some of it doesn’t! Smoke from your fire can climb and reach the relatively cooler surface near the top of your chimney. This causes it to condense and form a layer of what is known as creosote.

The more often you burn a fire in your fireplace, the thicker the layer of creosote will build. Creosote can appear as a black, oily substance or a hard, brown substance. It doesn’t really matter what it looks like. The big issue with creosote is that it is extremely flammable. Creosote can become too thick and catch a spark from your fireplace. Consequently, you might be faced with just what you don’t want – a roaring chimney fire!

One More Thing…

Another issue that creosote can cause is odor build up. You might notice this more often in the damp spring and summertime. The warm, damp air that works its way down your chimney mixes with the creosote on the interior of your chimney. This creates an odor that is, to say the least, unpleasant! You can use some do-it-yourself ideas to try to get rid of the odor. Unfortunately, though, many times these are just temporary fixes at best. Although this isn’t as devastating a problem as the flammability factor, you still want to get rid of this problem.

Problem Solved!

The best approach to getting rid of this dangerous and smelly problem is to hire professionals to come in and clean your chimney for you. Although you could probably get to some of the creosote on your own and scrub it off the interior of your chimney, to have a thorough job of getting rid of the problem, special brushes are used. If a severe creosote problem exists, video inspection can be used to find the root of the problem. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service uses all the latest tools and procedures to make sure your creosote problem is cleaned up! Schedule your annual inspection and cleaning today so you’re ready for the start of fireplace season.

By Justin Perkins on July 21st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

All About Liners

We recommend an annual chimney inspection for many important reasons. One of the most important is so that we can inspect the quality of your chimney’s liner. The liner protects the exterior wall of your chimney.


What’s Blocking Your Chimney?

A clogged up chimney flue can mean big trouble. Make sure there's nothing blocking your chimney by having it swept.

A clogged up chimney flue can mean big trouble. Make sure there’s nothing blocking your chimney by having it swept.

A fireplace can be a wonderful addition to any room in the house where the family might gather, providing warmth, light, and a cozy ambiance. However, a fireplace system has to be carefully maintained to make sure that they common problems that affect chimneys don’t impact the safety and beauty of your family’s favorite gathering spot. We as homeowners owe it to ourselves to remain constantly vigilant as far as the condition of any part of our homes are concerned. Like every appliance or piece of furniture we own, a chimney requires just as much attention; one could even argue that it requires more attention.

The Dangers of Creosote Buildup

So what exactly is creosote, and why is it dangerous to allow it to accumulate inside your chimney? Creosote is a sticky chemical residue that forms when wood is burned at low temperatures and is capable of building up to dangerous levels within your chimney. More creosote is formed from burning unseasoned softwoods in your fireplace than properly seasoned hardwoods. The residue begins as unburned oil in the form of gas; as it moves up the chimney, the oils build up into a coating inside the chimney as they begin to cool. This buildup is extremely flammable!

The residue can become quite thick over the course of a single season. Depending on the internal dimensions of your chimney, this can really restrict the flow of air, which can cause smoke to build up in the fireplace as well as in your home. This reduced airflow can also cause cooler burning fires because they’re not able to get the requisite amount of oxygen for increased combustion; all of this results in, you guessed it, more creosote buildup in your chimney. It becomes dangerous when it is allowed to accumulate in your chimney, as it becomes a fuel source for a possible chimney fire. The build up of creosote cannot be avoided completely, however, burning small, hot fires and using dry, seasoned wood can minimize the buildup.

There’s a What Living in my Chimney!?

If you are hearing noises in your chimney it may be one of two situations: a wild animal (such as a raccoon) is using your chimney as a den; or an animal (such as a squirrel or a bird) has fallen down the chimney and cannot get back up. Under absolutely no circumstances should you try to smoke an animal out of your chimney – you will only succeed in burning and/or killing the animal! Wild animals frequently mistake uncapped chimneys for hollow trees, and they have no idea that the “tree” is connected to your home! In contrast to hollow trees, however, the inside of a chimney is quite slippery, and raccoons seem to be the only animals capable of climbing up and down it.

One way to tell the difference between a denning animal (raccoon) and an animal that’s stuck (squirrel or bird) is by listening to the noise that the animal makes. An animal that is stuck is often frantic, and will scratch at the damper or flap its wings repeatedly in an effort to get out. If the damper is not closed, the animal may fall down into the fireplace, and even if he is able to get back up above the damper or onto the smoke shelf, it is important to recognize that this animal is unable to climb the entire length of the chimney. On the other hand, if the animal is using the chimney as a den site you may occasionally hear movement, as well as the sounds of wild animal babies calling out to their mother. The noises follow a more predictable pattern, and often occur only a certain times of the day.

While the firebox of your beloved fireplace can be easily seen and therefore monitored, the chimney itself commonly faces a number of troubles that are often caught only by a chimney professional during the annual chimney system inspection and sweeping. These things will help to ensure the safety and continued functionality of your fireplace and chimney for many years to come. You can always come to Santa’s Friend Chimney Service with any of your questions or needs. Our staff is always here to help.

The Quiet Threat

When people have a chimney they think of the nice warm nights during the winter and the idea of Santa entering their homes.  It never crosses our mind that a fireplace can affect the air quality throughout the house, causing health problems for the whole family.  Often times this occurs when people fail to get their chimney swept on schedule and creosotes begin to build up in the unit.  Luckily Santa’s Friend Chimney Service has a group of experienced professionals that can inspect and sweep your chimney!

What is Carbon Monoxide and how can it be harmful to me?

If there is anything blocking proper draft in your chimney, you are at risk for harmful gases coming back into your home.

If there is anything blocking proper draft in your chimney, you are at risk for harmful gases coming back into your home.

Carbon Monoxide is a clear gas that cannot be smelled.  Because of this, it can be toxic since large quantities are able to enter the blood stream and compete with the body’s oxygen levels.  CO levels can fill up an area so quickly that they can become fatal before you are aware that they exist.  Small levels are a little less harmful and have mild side effects similar to the flu such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.  Depending on your age and how long you are exposed to the gas, your symptoms may worsen.  If you have any heart problems, you will begin to experience chest pains.

How is Carbon Monoxide poisoning diagnosed?

If you or someone near you begins to feel these symptoms, you should have the area checked immediately.  If you feel like you may have CO poisoning, make your way to a doctor immediately.  If you are experiencing minimal symptoms you may be able to be treated in office, but worse symptoms may require hospitalization and an addition of clean oxygen to your system. If you are unsure, go see your doctor.

How Can Carbon Monoxide poisoning be prevented?

 Since CO can build up during the use of everyday appliances such as generators, vehicles, and chimneys, you should evacuate a room if you begin to feel symptoms of poisoning.  Even if you turn off the unit causing to problem, the room will still need to air out.  Having a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep conduct an annual sweep can help reduce the build-up of creosote.  You can also buy alarms to put throughout your home to let you know that levels are rising.  The alarms can also be connected so that when one sounds, the rest of the house is alerted. It is important to remember that these should not replace smoke detectors.



Log vs. Sweep

In our lives, we applaud each other for working late, laugh at those who don’t, and measure our self-worth in time stamps.  Meanwhile, those who take the proverbial “easy way out” are ridiculed, criticized and/or passed over for promotions.  An online search returns pages of blogs explaining how to kick the habit of taking it easy.  By all accounts, taking the easy way out seems harmful and counterproductive.  Why, then, do so many of us seem so drawn to the path of least resistance?  If the hard route leads to more profitable outcomes, why aren’t more people willing to go that route?  Why do we tend to look for the easy way out of a situation?

Chimney Sweeping Logs: The Easy Way Out   It’s easier that way, for one.  Physics says that the path of least resistance is generally the one taken.  The decision on the best method for cleaning your chimney should not be one in which you opt for the easy way.  There are all sorts of advertisements for chimney sweeping logs (CSLs) flooding the marketplace today.  These products claim to do the work of a chimney sweep, all for a price of around $15 per log.  Sounds too good to be true, huh?  If you answered yes, you are correct.

Using a log that claims to rid your chimney of creosote may cause more problems than it promises to solve.

Using a log that claims to rid your chimney of creosote may cause more problems than it promises to solve.

What the CSLs Actually Do   It really isn’t the logs that are supposed to do anything; it is the chemicals and minerals they’re impregnated with that do all of the work.  When a CSL is burned, the chemicals and minerals are carried up the flue by the rising exhaust gases.  After entering the flue, they attach themselves to the creosote in your chimney and, over the course of several subsequent fires, break it down, causing it to crumble away from the chimney walls.

What’s in a Name   The name, CSL, is a bit misleading.  One would expect a product called a chimney sweeping log to actually sweep the chimney, or at least perform an equivalent function.  According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the use of CSLs alone is not an adequate substitute for mechanical chimney cleaning and inspection because they do not provide for the same level of protection to your chimney system.  The CSIA mandates that all CSL manufacturers include a CSIA Accepted Product logo, including the following message: “When used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, this product is accepted by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.  For improved safety and home heating efficiency, CSIA recommends that all chimney and vented appliances be inspected every year by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.”

This CSIA recommendation of regular chimney inspection and cleaning should be proof enough that CSLs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  If you want to spend your hard earned money on CSLs, please feel free to do so.  However, keep in mind that nothing can ever replace the services provided by a qualified chimney sweeping professional, including annual inspections and cleaning.

Getting the Gunk Out

Watch Out for Creosote

There’s just something about fireplaces and chimneys during the winter season that draw you in, again and again. The chill in your bones dissolves into the blissful crackle and pop of a roaring fire. But, if you built that fire with green or wet wood, you’d also have a smoky fire and a rapid buildup of creosote. It is a natural by-product of burning, but when the creosote isn’t regularly removed, it becomes a real concern.

Creosote or a substance commonly known as soot is formed through the condensation of gases and incomplete combustion of wood particles. It is found in your chimney flues and areas in the stone masonry and the four walls of your chimney. It is identified as silky black or dark brown dust.  This is formed by the specific element in creosote which is carbon (doubles the flammability level of creosote) and is also composed of ash which is non-combustible.

We are experienced in identifying and removing creosote from your chimney. Have you had your annual inspection?

We are experienced in identifying and removing creosote from your chimney. Have you had your annual inspection?

Thick formation of creosote is otherwise known as glaze. This is ten times more flammable than typical low-level creosote. This can accumulate a great amount of fuel to burn and is more difficult to remove compared to subtle amounts of creosote.

There are a few reasons why this exists; it might be that enough supplemental heat has already been provided and too much smoke is occupying your room rather than going up the chimney flues. When there is too much soot build-up in the chimneys, this might trigger blazing fires to erupt and destroy your homes in a matter of seconds. The formation of carbon monoxide is not far from the picture and can poison the people in your home and cause unfortunate accidents as well.

Sure enough, you wouldn’t want this dangerous chimney deposit to ruin your home. So it’s best to have your chimney and fireplace checked annually.  This is to control and remove the build-up of creosote and to prepare your chimney for heavy duty work during the winter season. The best and only option for the people of Mississippi is Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. After over twenty-four years of service, we are glad to offer you professional service and peace of mind.

By Jim Robinson on November 30th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment