Understanding Creosote & Its Hazards – How to Get Rid Of It
Winter is on its way as the temperatures are falling, and many people are beginning to prepare their savior – the fireplaces for the upcoming cold season. However, if you have not recently cleaned and examined your chimney, we recommend you do it right away. Because there might be a hidden health hazard hiding in the lowest recesses of chimney flues: creosote.
This article will explain what is creosote, the health effects of creosote, and what you can do to combat it.
What Is Creosote?
It’s a hazardous result of wood burning that keeps on accumulating in your chimney unless you clean and remove it. The main purpose of burning fossil fuels or wood is to burn those as thoroughly as possible. However, if the air transfer to the fire is insufficient, it effectively starves the fire, resulting in incomplete burning. Whenever the wood oils are not entirely burnt, they switch to making off-gas, which is a volatile component and rises through the smoke. As it rises, smoke eventually cools down and condenses into the form of water and other substances on the inside of the flue and chimney. This residue is known as creosote.
Types of Creosote
There are three phases of creosote in your chimney:
Phase 1 – Creosote appears as a light, flaky layer that you can easily brush away.
Phase 2 – It then hardens into a tar-like layer that can be hard to extract, frequently involving the use of specialist scrapers or brushes.
Phase 3 – The creosote hardens and becomes considerably harder to extract. You can tell this is phase 3 if you notice it dripping like candle wax upon reaching a high enough temperature to melt it.
How Does Creosote Accumulate in Your Chimney?
You utilize a fireplace to safely and effectively light a fire in your house. This fireplace then uses the chimney and flue to properly expel smoke and heat from your home. While these things are particularly intended for flames, they do have one drawback: they restrict ventilation.
Creosote is produced and begins to accumulate as a result of a fireplace or chimney obstructing appropriate ventilation. However, this is a complication. The creosote that condenses and lingers on your flue gradually restricts airflow even further. Creosote deposits generate increasingly serious problems with incomplete combustion over time, resulting in quicker creosote development.
These residues can quickly accumulate and cover the inner lining of your chimney. Because even minor levels of incomplete combustion may start this hazard, practically any house will usually have creosote accumulated in their chimney. If you have not had your chimney examined in a while, you will definitely be seeing some noticeable residues right now!
Creosote Health Hazards
Creosote can do more than just limit ventilation in the chimney. There are many health effects of creosote along with toxic impacts on your home.
Creosote is Hazardous, and its exposure could have a variety of negative impacts on your health. While some are just bothersome, others might have serious consequences. The following are some of the most typical creosote health hazards upon exposure:
1. It Causes Skin Irritation
If you physically contact the creosote, you may get rashes or other skin-related issues.
2. It Causes Eye Irritation and Discomfort
Creosote can induce vision problems, light sensitivity, or other symptoms similar to serious discomfort in your eyes. And that is why you must always hire a professional to remove creosote and clean the chimney.
3. It May Cause or Expedite Your Respiratory Issues
Respiratory Issues – Understandably, breathing in creosote particulates increases your chances of developing respiratory problems over time. If you already suffer from breathing issues, inhaling creosote particles can worsen your condition and expedite internal damage.
4. It Can Cause Cancer
Even in houses with poor maintenance of the chimneys, it’s very unlikely that you will be exposed to enough creosote to get cancer. On the other hand, creosote has been found in tests to be carcinogenic, which shows that if you will be exposed to creosote for the long term, it may trigger cancer.
5. It Is a Fire Hazard
Remember, creosote is developed when the wood is not burned completely. So, what is the purpose of creosote in the chimney? Getting ready to get burned! The fact that creosote is detrimental to your wellbeing might not be the most alarming aspect of it. It has been one of the primary causes of chimney fires worldwide. The residues left in the chimney are explosive, and when they ignite, they produce a blazing fire.
Although a chimney or fireplace may seem like an excellent site for a fire, chimney fires are extremely harmful. The brickwork and flue liners are only built to withstand a limited amount of heat, and the intensity of chimney fires surpasses that limit.
While there may be little obvious damage after the first chimney fire, but you cannot take it lightly as it will decrease your home’s capacity to survive a second one. It will decrease your chimney’s inner lining capability to withhold the second fire, which is why we recommend you replace it right after.
A chimney fire may readily ignite anything flammable that comes into contact with its flame. While the chimney could be built of bricks, your house most certainly includes wood panels and other structural elements that might catch fire.
How to Get Rid of Creosote
Calling an expert is the safest and most dependable approach to remove creosote. While removing creosote oneself is not hard, it is not appropriate for the ordinary homeowner to do that as they might become victims of the creosote health hazards. If you still wish to give it a try, we recommend you wear all the safety gear and use a creosote sweeping stick. It will not remove it entirely but a considerable amount to lower any potential risks. The easiest technique to avoid creosote development is to use the proper fuel. That means only burning dried and seasoned wood in the fireplace. These woods will combust more thoroughly and produce fewer off-gas and byproducts.
911 Restoration of Connecticut
Creosote is that the accumulation is generally near the top of the chimney, where the smoke condenses to turn into creosote. It will be tough for you to clean it without the proper tools and safety procedures. This is why you should hire a professional like 911 Restoration of Connecticut to handle the situation at your place. We will inspect the chimney and clean it up to reduce any potential risks so you can continue enjoying winters near your fireplace fearlessly!