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The buildup of creosote is a common occurrence in chimneys. A byproduct of incomplete combustion, creosote is composed of tar, wood particles, and other combustible materials. And, if allowed to build up, creosote can ignite and cause chimney fires.

Fortunately, you can avoid this problem before it happens with professional chimney cleaning services. Ask our experts about scheduling yours today.


A tar-like, resinous substance, creosote is created when unburned fuel is deposited on the exhaust portion of your chimney. It also occurs when incomplete combustion causes carbon monoxide to combine with oxygen in the air. As this happens, tar and other hydrocarbons start to form, hardening into a substance known as creosote.

Over time, creosote can build up and cause a chimney fire. And once damage from a chimney fire occurs, you’ll be likely to experience smoke exposure, gas leaks, and fire damage throughout your entire home.


Chimney fires typically are slow-moving and quiet events, meaning you could have experienced one without even realizing it. In these cases, we find that homeowners continue using their fireplace, not realizing anything is even wrong with it, which can then lead to huge hazards like house fires, gas leaks, and exposure to smoke and other harmful fumes.

No matter which type of system you own, a chimney fire can cause significant damage:

Masonry Chimneys

When a fire occurs in a masonry chimney, the high temperature can crack the tiles, collapse the lining, and damage the outer masonry. This creates a pathway for flames to reach similar combustible materials inside the home – leading to the rapid spread of fire.

Metal (Prefabricated) Chimneys

Although prefabricated or factory-made chimneys have passed quality tests, direct contact with flames and intense heat can still damage them. Once damaged this extensively, this type of chimney isn’t safe for use and needs to be entirely replaced.

Wood Stove Venting

Wood-burning stoves are made to burn wood at a high temperature. However, the pipes that carry the smoke out aren’t made to withstand this extreme heat. In the event of a chimney fire, these materials fail easily allowing fire, heat, and smoke to enter the home.


Chimney fires can damage the clay flue tiles or metal linings of the chimney, and once the liner fails, the fire can get out of control in minutes – spreading quickly to your home’s floors and walls in the process.

That said, sometimes the only sign that a fire occurred is the damage left behind. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) compiled this list of signs for homeowners to keep an eye out for:

✓ Presence of puffy or honey-combed creosote
✓ Pieces of creosote on the roof or ground
Damaged or melted roofing material
✓ Broken or missing parts of flue tiles
✓ Cracks on the outer wall of a masonry chimney
✓ Thick smoke coming out of your chimney or flue
✓ A discolored or deformed chimney cap or chase cover
✓ Heat-damaged TV antenna or dish located near the chimney
✓ Distorted metal damper, smoke chamber connection pipe, or factory-built metal chimney


The prevention of creosote buildup is necessary for safety, and it’s good for the efficiency of your fireplace or wood stove too. Here’s how you can keep your chimney cleaner and minimize the accumulation of creosote.

  • Schedule Chimney Inspections & Cleanings: Chimney sweepings and inspections should be a regular part of your annual home maintenance routine to prevent creosote formation. A chimney sweep removes creosote before it has a chance to build up and cause trouble, and inspections can reveal any possible hazards in your chimney.
  • Use Only Seasoned Wood: One of the best ways to minimize creosote deposits is by burning only dry, seasoned wood in your firebox. These logs have less moisture than fresh wood, which helps it burn faster, and they give off less smoke too. Also, the smoke rises easier and faster when the wood is completely dry. Since creosote forms as smoke cools and lingers, these factors all help to reduce buildup.
  • Burn Hotter Fires: Another way to prevent buildup is by burning hotter fires. When the fire is hot enough, there will be little to no smoke – and less creosote buildup.
  • Promote Good Airflow: Combustion requires a certain amount of oxygen to work properly and efficiently. If you don’t leave enough space for air to flow, the fire will quickly become starved. As a result, the flue becomes too full of smoke, which can cause creosote formation. It’s best to avoid overloading your fireplace with wood and keep your damper open wide enough.


Chimney fires cause considerable damage to the chimney, and the cost of repairs can be a financial burden to homeowners – especially compared with the reasonable price of regular chimney sweepings, annual inspections, and periodic maintenance.

If you are looking for a dependable chimney company to provide you with high quality service, trust the experts at The Chimney Doctor. Call us today at (970) 234-3330 or reach out online to schedule your sweeping!