Do you know why your chimney has to be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis? It’s not something people do out of extreme cleanliness—cleaning your chimney is actually crucial for ensuring the safety of your home. A chimney covered in layers of creosote is a ticking time bomb ready to set off a chimney fire. Creosote is a combustion byproduct that forms in the chimney when the smoke is below 250 degrees F, which is the case with most traditional masonry chimneys. Unfortunately, creosote will form no matter how you burn the wood and a Maryland chimney sweep will have to do the cleaning. However, there are a few things you could do to reduce creosote buildup, extend the time between chimney sweeps and keep your home safer.
Don’t Burn Unseasoned Wood
There is a reason why it’s recommended to let your firewood air-dry for six months to a year. Wood with high moisture content will create steam during burning. The steam tends to condense as it goes up the chimney, which lowers the smoke temperature even further, causing more creosote to form on the chimney walls.
Avoid Slow-Burning Fires
A smoldering, barely going fire creates a lot of smoke. In addition to that, the smoke temperature is low enough to allow for ample creosote deposits. To avoid smoldering, ensure that your fire has plenty of air and don’t overload your firebox with wood to allow for quicker burning at higher temperatures. This may require frequent refueling, but it’s better for your chimney than large, slow-burning loads.
Reconfigure Your Fireplace
If you are in the middle of a renovation or decided to add a fireplace to your home, choose wisely where you place it. A chimney that is poorly insulated and located close to the outside will likely be too cool to prevent creosote buildup. Size of the flue and type and quality of the chimney liner also matter in how well your chimney will perform.
Consider a Catalytic Converter
There is a device called a catalytic converter that can heat up combustion gases to high temperatures, essentially burning smoke and creosote with it. You might be familiar with a catalytic converter in your car—it works similarly in wood-burning stoves. By installing a catalytic stove insert for your fireplace, you can not only ensure more complete combustion, but also output more heat thanks to the additional energy generated by burning gasses. If you have a traditional masonry fireplace, you probably know that it’s more for the looks and ambiance than home heating. A catalytic wood-burning stove, on the other hand, is extremely efficient and uses less firewood.
If you follow these tips, you might be able to enjoy safer fires and less frequent chimney cleanings. And if you’ve tried everything, but still deal with ridiculous amounts of creosote, contact us for a Maryland chimney inspection.