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Chimney Maintenance and problems.


A characteristic problem of chimneys is they develop deposits of creosote on the walls of the structure when used with wood as a fuel. Deposits of this substance can interfere with the airflow and more importantly, they are flammable and can cause dangerous chimney fires if the deposits ignite in the chimney. Thus, it is recommended  that chimneys be inspected annually and cleaned on a regular basis to prevent these problems.

Creosote  is naturally produced in some quantities from the burning of wood and coal in blast furnaces and fireplaces; commonly found inside chimney flues when the wood or coal burns incompletely, producing soot and tarry smoke. Creosote has a very strong, acrid odor, generally much worse in wet weather or in the summertime when the chimney is less effective in drawing the odor up the chimney.
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How it looks  after cleaning 
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A chimney fire is the combustion of residue deposits referred to as creosote, on the inner surfaces of chimney tiles, flue liners, stove pipes, etc. The process begins with the incomplete combustion (burning) of fuel in the attached appliance, usually a wood or coal stove. The unburned volatiles are heated to the vapor state but not consumed due to a lack of adequate heat and oxygen within the appliance. These volatile distillates escape into the chimney, where they contact cooler surfaces and condense into tar-like deposits. Successive layers accumulate until either the chimney plugs completely, or the chimney reaches a temperature and oxygen level at which the deposit will ignite. Due to the concentrated level of volatile material now present, these fires tend to burn very hot. The high temperatures stress the mechanical strength of the chimney causing distortion of metal structures, and failure of ceramic structures.

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Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend yearly chimney inspections to help prevent fire and carbon monoxide poisonings.

 

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