Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to safely contain the fire while providing heat for a home. The chimneys that serve them have the job of removing the by-products of combustion. These include smoke, water vapour, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar and assorted minerals. As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove and flow up into the cooler chimney, this courses condensation. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote.
Creosote is black or brown in appearance. It can be crusty and flaky, even tar-like, like a resin and sticky…or shiny and hardened. Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly flammable. When it can build up in sufficient quantities and the internal flue temperature is high enough the resulting mix can result in a chimney fire.
Certain conditions encourage the build-up of creosote. Restricting air supply, unseasoned wood, chimney temperatures cooler than normal, infrequent flue sweeping and maintenance all play their part to can accelerate the build-up of creosote on chimney flue walls. Insufficient ventilation, air supply may be restricted, the lack of sufficient air to move the smoke and heat up the chimney rapidly. The longer the smoke is in the chimney flue, the more likely creosote will form. A wood stove’s air supply can be regulated by closing the stove damper or air inlets but if done too soon or too much you could be compounding the problem.
Burning unseasoned wood is a problem because so much energy is used initially just to get rid off the water trapped in the logs. This keeps the resulting smoke cooler.
Then if the seasoned wood is used on wood stoves, overloading the stove with wood to try and get a longer burn time also contributes to creosote build-up.
Creosote can be highly flammable and with an average of 8000 chimney fires a year in the UK. Regular chimney sweeping and inspection of chimney flues should be a must when using any fire appliance.
But no chimney sweep can give you a guaranty that you will not have a chimney fire, taking the precaution of having a chimney fire extinguisher at hand after ringing the emergency services can stop the problem of a chimney fire from becoming a catastrophe.
By Paul Ross
Managing director uBuyuDo.com Ltd & Chimney Sweeps Ltd
From the chimney sweeping family and company K & I Paterson, Paterson Stoves.
They had an enjoyable & successful time at the Scottish Home Show, showing off their wonderful family company and getting some great feedback on ChimFireStop.
The only “proven by testing” Chimney Fire Extinguisher in the UK.
Ian was the first company to see the benefits of having a chimney fire extinguisher at hand.
We at uBuyuDo are proud to have Ian on board as our preferred retailer of ChimFireStop in Aberdeen and surrounding areas.