Black Friday 2018 has arrived. And while most of us associate it with crazy specials and even crazier customers, Black Friday for a chimney doesn’t mean the same thing. A Friday spent cleaning out some of the dirtiest chimneys you’ve ever seen so Santa Claus can slide down them a month from now is our version of a Black Friday. If you think that Santa will leave coal in your sock if you’ve been bad, you should see what you’ll wake up to if you get his suit all dirty.
Most of us will remove ashes from the fireplace regularly and sometimes we might clean the bricks lightly with a wet cloth. And for those that don’t mind scrubbing a little harder, they might even clean the bricks with a dishwashing liquid (like Dawn), and Borax.
While we might have the best intentions, all stains are not made equal.. The harder to remove stains that can range in color from red, orange, brown, green, white etc… require stronger acids that are very toxic. Although you might be comfortable removing the more obvious stains in the fireplace, removing the more caked on mold, mildew and creosote buildup isn’t easy and requires a professional.
There are actually three stages of creosote buildup that take into account many factors. First degree creosote is easier to remove and occurs when there is the wood has been supplied with enough air so that it combusts up the chimney and/or relatively high flue gas temperatures are present.
Second degree creosote takes the form of black flakes that are dry and crusty. It isn’t as easy to brush away as first degree creosote, but you can still remove it. It occurs when the air has been restricted such as fireplaces with glass doors and woodstoves.
As you might have guessed, third degree creosote buildup is the hardest to remove. It occurs when the flue temperatures are low and/or wood combustion is incomplete. Typically on woodstoves with the air controls on low uninsulated chimneys or chimneys that have cracks in the masonry bricks. If the wood being used is damp or moist. If the flue is oversized for the appliance
Third degree creosote looks like the most like tar and extends up and down the chimney. It can be as thick as an inch of two and is composed of concentrated fuel. The real danger is if third degree creosote burns, cools and takes the form of a sponge-like substance that can catch fire in a chimney.
There are many products and methods that can be used to remove third degree creosote. The real problem is when there are with openings in the system or a crack in the chimney liner that allows liquid creosote to go through and accumulate. A chimney that has had 3rd degree creosote in it is unsafe to use and should be inspected by a professional.
While chimney cleaners like those professionals at Professional Chimney Services in Houston, Texas are used to Black Friday, you shouldn’t be. Get your annual chimney inspection and cleaning before Old Saint Nick drops by for his annual visit.