“A little soot outside the fireplace is no big deal right?”
Soot and creosote dangers are real. Both substances naturally accumulate in fireplaces and flues, that’s why you need a chimney sweep every year, to check things out and sweep away any excessive deposits.
Although steps can be taken to minimize deposits, soot is often found in fireplace hearths and creosote in wood-stove chimneys. If cleaned on an annual basis, then the risk and consequences of an unsafe build-up of soot and creosote are reduced.
Regular maintenance helps your fireplace and chimney operate at peak performance.
Creosote is the byproduct of combustion of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. A little creosote is expected to show up in the firebox with each fire.
While a little bit of creosote and soot is normal, there are abnormal areas where if soot is appearing then it indicates a dangerous situation is developing.
Watch for Warning Signs
Soot and creosote stains are warning signs that something is off and the chimney system is not functioning properly.
If smoke stains appear on your fireplace mantle, then take warning and have your fireplace inspected.
If creosote drains down the side of your chimney cap, then there is something going on warrants a chimney inspection
A fireplace mantle should not have ANY signs of smoke stains on it.
Even if the mantle soot stains took years to appear, those smudges of black indicate your fireplace is not drafting properly. Head this warning because it is a very dangerous sign, because the exhaust that made those stains, also contains carbon monoxide.
Remember, creosote and soot are byproducts of combustion. It comes from incomplete combustion and even if you try to burn only seasoned wood, some build up is inevitable. As with all fuels, so it is true with natural gas and wood fuels: if the fuel-air mixture is off, then soot and other byproducts are produced.
Since complete combustion is impossible in the real world, your goal must be:
- Verify that the equipment is installed and operated in accordance with operational instructions.
- You MUST follow the manufacturer’s instructions in regards to annual servicing.
- Be aware of signs of malfunction, issues that could result in a shorter service life, poor efficiency, fire or carbon monoxide dangers.
When chimney soot & creosote dangers become visible, it’s a warning that you could be at risk!