If you’ve browsed the aisles of a home improvement store recently, you may have come across a section dedicated to the care of your chimney system. Among the products available are something called creosote sweeping logs.
If you love using your wood-burning fireplace, but are less keen on staying on top of maintenance or scheduling professional cleanings, this seems like a great solution. A product that I can burn like a regular piece of firewood to get rid of that nasty creosote? Sounds like a win!
The question is, do creosote sweeping logs actually work?
…while they can be useful to help manage creosote between professional sweepings, they won’t change the need for regular chimney inspections by a qualified chimney sweep technician.
The answer depends on your expectations. In short, they do yield some effect and are classified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) as an accepted product… but they won’t eliminate creosote from your chimney system. And while they can be useful to help manage creosote between professional sweepings, they won’t change the need for regular chimney inspections by a qualified chimney sweep technician.
Let’s look at what creosote sweeping logs can – and can not – do for you.
What Do Creosote Sweeping Logs Do?
These logs, which sell for $15-$30, are saturated with potent chemicals designed to change the adhesion qualities of creosote that’s built up in your chimney. Creosote is notably stubborn. A byproduct of incomplete combustion, creosote is a tarry black substance that builds up as particulates in smoke condense on your chimney walls. This effect is amplified by burning green or damp firewood, but even very well-seasoned firewood will yield accumulation of soot and creosote in your chimney flue over time.
When you burn a creosote sweeping log, the smoke from the log is intended to make any creosote it comes into contact with flake off. The idea is that these flaked creosote particulates will fall down your chimney flue, where you can sweep it away.
What Are the Limitations of Creosote Sweeping Logs?
Creosote sweeping logs may loosen creosote and get it moving, but they can’t remove it from your system. While the resulting creosote particulates that fall into your firebox may be swept away easily enough, there’s no guarantee that all the particulates will make it down the chimney. Some may accumulate inside your chimney, such as on the smoke shelves or in bends in your flue.
While your chimney may appear perfectly vertical from inside the room housing your fireplace, the reality is many chimneys have crooks in them to allow the chimney opening to vent from the desired aesthetic location of your home. These kinds of crooks are common, and a well-designed chimney vents properly with or without them, no problem – but crooks will provide hiding places for flaked creosote to get trapped when using creosote sweeping logs.
Because creosote is not merely a cosmetic issue, this is not a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Creosote is highly combustible, so you want it cleared from your chimney to minimize your risk of experiencing chimney fires. Unfortunately, some areas of a chimney are difficult for the average homeowner to see or access.
Why Hiring a Pro is the Way to Go
When you have your chimney swept by a professional chimney sweep technician, he’ll bring tools such as rods, brushes, and HEPA vacuums to collect and eliminate creosote from your chimney flue. In addition, he’ll tackle any other obstructions that may be present. While creosote sweeping logs are designed to make creosote easier to remove, they aren’t designed to affect other debris that can make its way into your chimney flue, such as leaves, twigs, or even nests or small animals themselves. These are also fire and ventilation hazards, and they’ll require personal attention.
Hiring a pro for your routine chimney sweepings has other advantages as well. While you might notice problems or damage to your chimney system when they become obvious, would you notice deterioration or damage that’s less readily apparent? Do you climb up your roof or use internal cameras to check difficult-to-reach components?
A chimney sweep is trained and experienced to see early signs of breakdown, leaks, and damages so they can be remedied before they increase in severity. This means cost savings for homeowners in the long term. In addition, having an expert set of eyes to examine your chimney and ears to field questions and give recommendations yields benefits – peace of mind and empowerment to make informed decisions about how to use and manage your fireplace optimally.
Overall, it’s best to see chimney system care as a partnership. A homeowner should use good fireplace practices, such as burning well-seasoned firewood, maintaining proper clearances, managing the ash in your firebox – and, of course, enjoying your fireplace. A chimney professional comes alongside the homeowner by providing thorough annual inspections and routine chimney sweepings to help sustain the safe and enjoyable use of your wood-burning system.
Questions? Give Us a Call
Do you have questions about the optimal safety and maintenance or your fireplace and chimney? Are you nearly due for an inspection? You can trust our reliable team of service-minded, experienced professionals. Give us a call or reach out online today so we can help get your chimney checked, cleared, and running at its best.