The snow is falling, the days are cold, and families are cozying up to their fireplaces. Wood fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are a great, energy-efficient way to stay warm during the winter months. But, those cozy nights can turn dangerous if you have creosote buildup in the chimney. If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned in the past year, schedule a cleaning before using the fireplace again—there are most likely remnants from the last winter.

Smoke from a wood-burning fire contains substances like combustion gases, tar, and wood particles. As the smoke rises and mixes with the cold air, these materials solidify and stick to the chimney liner, creating creosote. This in itself isn’t an issue—it does become a problem after using the fireplace for months, as that creosote starts to build up. Creosote accumulates as a result of limited ventilation, and that ventilation will get even worse as that buildup continues, creating even more creosote. It’s truly a never-ending cycle!

A chimney sweep can get rid of the creosote at any of the three stages:

  • Stage 1: This is a small amount of creosote that is flaky and easy to remove. This can be done with a chimney brush.
  • Stage 2: Creosote at this stage becomes thicker and harder, consisting mostly of tar. Brushing can’t get rid of the substance at this stage, so chemical solutions or power drills are used for removal.
  • Stage 3: This sticky, oily material is flammable and dangerous. It can’t be removed with a brush or chemical solvent—the chimney sweep can try professional-grade chemicals, but in some cases, it’s necessary to remove and replace the chimney liner.

Don’t let your chimney get to stage 3! Not only is it difficult and more expensive to remove, but creosote at that stage can start a fire in your home if a spark catches any bit of that built-up, sticky creosote. Getting your chimney cleaned once a year is the best way to prevent long-term creosote buildup and keep you and your family safe.

Brekke Fireplace Shoppe has been serving the Twin Cities area since 1964. We offer a wide range of gas, wood, and electric fireplaces. Give us a call to schedule a free in-home estimate!