Why Aren't Chimney Cleaning Logs A Cure-All?

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Why Aren't Chimney Cleaning Logs A Cure-All?

19 April 2022
 Categories: , Blog

If you own a home with a fireplace, you've probably seen or even used chimney cleaning logs. These logs are incredibly simple to use. You can burn them alone or normally with your fire, and the additives in the log will travel through the chimney in the smoke, interacting with the deposits on your flue walls and helping to loosen them.

In theory, using a chimney cleaning log should leave a relatively messy fireplace filled with creosote flakes. While this debris might take a little effort to clean, it's easier than getting into your chimney and cleaning it by hand. Unfortunately, these logs aren't necessarily a cure-all for every chimney problem, and using them may lead to a false sense of confidence and potential hazards.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Chimney?

Combustion typically requires two elements: fuel and oxygen. The average person utilizes combustion in many ways throughout their day, such as when driving a car or turning on the heat from a home furnace. However, these pieces of equipment maintain a careful balance of fuel and air to achieve relatively clean, complete combustion. Your fireplace is a little bit different.

A fireplace typically constrains airflow enough that it's impossible to achieve the perfect ratio of air to fuel, known as the stoichiometric ratio. Wood containing high moisture levels can lead to even more incomplete burns. As a result, the typical home fireplace doesn't provide a "clean" burn, and the smoke escaping through the chimney contains volatile compounds from the wood.

As the smoke travels up the chimney, it cools and typically condenses against the flue walls. This condensation produces a substance called creosote that builds up in the flue over time. Creosote is highly flammable, so it's critical to keep its formation under control. Too much creosote build-up in your chimney can potentially lead to fires.

Why Do You Need a Professional Chimney Sweep?

Wood cleaning logs cause creosote to break up and fall into the fire, where it will either burn or be left as debris to clean up later. Unfortunately, these logs can only deal with creosote in its early stages. Creosote eventually hardens, becoming more challenging to remove and potentially a more severe fire hazard.

Using wood cleaning logs occasionally can help control creosote and act as a form of chimney maintenance. Still, it's rarely sufficient to keep your flue clean or prevent all of the creosote from hardening. A professional chimney sweeping contractor can thoroughly inspect your chimney and can remove creosote deposits that have already hardened within the flue.

If you want to use your fireplace safely, you should schedule a professional chimney cleaning at least once per year. Using chimney-cleaning logs may make this job easier and even save you a little money, but they're not a substitute for professional cleaning and inspection.