How to Prevent and Remove Creosote in Your Fireplace

If you have a fireplace, it’s crucial to understand what creosote is and why it’s important to prevent it. Not only does creosote pose a fire hazard, but it can also lead to chimney blockages and poor indoor air quality. 

Below, we explain what creosote is, how to prevent it, and how to get rid of buildup once it starts.

What is Creosote and Why is it Harmful?

Smoke from a wood fire usually contains a dark brown or black substance with an unpleasant odor called creosote. It can build up in a number of places within the chimney. Additionally, it will condense on the surfaces of stove pipes or chimney flues, and can be thick and tar-like. 

Creosote is made up of methanol (wood alcohol) and acetic acid, which can trap carbon from smoke, dry, and bake inside pipes and flues, becoming crusty or flaky. In any form, creosote is extremely flammable.

Preventing Creosote Buildup

It’s important to prevent creosote from accumulating in your chimney to protect your family and home from potential dangers, such as a fire or unhealthy air quality. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent creosote buildup, including:

  • Using Seasoned Hardwood: Burning well-seasoned hardwood reduces creosote buildup compared to burning green or softwoods. This is because seasoned wood has lower moisture content, leading to a cleaner burn.
  • Getting Regular Inspections: Scheduling annual chimney inspections with a certified professional, like Supreme Fireplace & Hearth, can help identify creosote buildup and any other issues that need attention.
  • Ensuring Proper Airflow: Using dampers correctly to make sure your fireplace has adequate airflow and promoting efficient combustion will help to ensure creosote doesn’t build up.
  • Burning Hot Fires: Periodically burning hot fires using dry, seasoned wood will help burn off existing creosote deposits.

Removing Creosote Buildup

If you’re a new homeowner, or have neglected taking care of your fireplace, don’t fret! There are ways to safely remove creosote buildup in your chimney. 

These include:

  • A Creosote Sweep: Hire a professional chimney sweep to remove creosote buildup safely. With specialized tools and techniques to clean the chimney thoroughly, you can rest assured knowing your fireplace is clean.
  • Creosote Removal Products: Consider using creosote removal products designed for DIY use. These products help break down creosote, making it easier to remove during chimney sweeping.
  • Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular chimney cleanings to prevent creosote buildup. The frequency depends on usage and the type of wood burned.

Protecting Your Family From Creosote Threats

Aside from preventative maintenance and creosote removal, there are other important steps to take to protect your family and home from the threat of creosote. 

We recommend:

  • Installing a Chimney Cap: A chimney cap prevents debris and animals from entering the chimney, reducing the risk of blockages and creosote buildup.
  • Using Firewood Safely: Remember to burn only seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Avoid burning trash, cardboard, or treated wood, which can increase creosote buildup.
  • Installing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Ensure your home has working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed near the fireplace and throughout the house in case the worst happens.

Is There a Buildup of Creosote in Your Fireplace? 

FEMA recommends that your chimney, fireplace, and vents undergo inspection yearly. Whether you’ve never had a fireplace inspection, or it’s just been a while, call a professional. 

Supreme Fireplace & Hearth offers regular maintenance and inspection services, so you don’t have to stress about whether or not your chimney will catch fire due to buildups of creosote.

Why Choose Us for Fireplace Installation and Maintenance?

Supreme is the premier choice in Wabash Valley for all your home’s comfort needs. Visit our newly renovated showroom located at 1399 E Margaret Drive, Terre Haute, IN 47802 to browse over 20 fireplace models on display—each showcasing the latest in design, efficiency, and technology.

Learn why homeowners turn to us to update existing fireplaces, convert wood-burning fireplaces to gas, build custom hearths, and much more. Experience firsthand how a fireplace can elevate the style and functionality of your home while enhancing overall comfort and well-being.

Remember to perform regular maintenance, schedule your annual inspection, and when in doubt, give us a call!