Unlocking the secrets of your home — You're smoking too much!

Real Estate Agent with Weidel Realtors

Russel Ray has presented many interesting and important safety tips about fireplaces and harmful creosote buildup. Thanks Russel for a lot of great information. Feel free to comment, but be sure to stop by Russel's blog to chat and perhaps to subscribe.

Call Russel Ray for all your home inspection needs

Zoey the Cool Cat


You're smoking too much!

How do I know?

Because you're flat-out ugly:

You're smoking too much!


Fireplace sootAlthough one-third of the nation uses fireplaces, wood stoves, and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes, that doesn't means that they are aware of the risks when using fire to heat a home. Thirty-six percent of home fires each year are the result of fires used for heating the home, usually due to creosote accumulation.

The black stuff you see above the fireplace in the picture is soot, which has creosote in it. Creosote has many commercial uses, but coating the inside and outside of your fireplace and chimney is not one of them!

Creosote is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of organic fuels. If you have a very smoky fire, chances are that whatever you're burning isn't burning completely. As smoke rises through the chimney, it cools, resulting in carbon, water, and various oils condensing on the inside of the chimney. If the damper is closed, or the fire is too big for the fireplace, you'll also get black soot on the outside of the fireplace and chimney like that in the picture.

Wood stoveAs you continue to use your fireplace, creosote continues to accumulate. The worst I ever saw was a chimney with creosote over two inches thick. Since chimneys are usually designed to handle a specific fire type (wood or gas) and air flow into the fire and up the chimney, when you start blocking the chimney with an accumulation of creosote, the air flow through the chimney is reduced. Since creosote is highly flammable, you've created a nice fire hazard which, too often, results in a chimney fire. It's kind of like having a chimney full of charcoal briquettes except in this case what you'll be grilling is your house instead of prime rib.

Once the inside of the chimney catches on fire, the chimney itself can get so hot that any combustible materials that might be in direct contact with it — such as wood framing in the attic, or storage in the attic — catch on fire.

Fireplace sootYou can do several things to keep your fireplace working at maximum efficiency:

  • Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned annually.
  • Clear the area around the firelace of debris, storage, decorations, and flammable materials.
  • Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. This act provides air to help with complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney. Make sure you close the mesh screen to keep any popping embers from getting outside of the fireplace.
  • Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open and never restrict air supply to fireplaces.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
  • Never use flammable liquids like gasoline to start a fire.
  • Processed fireplace logUse only seasoned hardwoods. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup, as does pine wood.
  • Don't use the processed wood logs that you find at the grocery store. As with most overprocessed stuff in the world, it's not good for you or your fireplace.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, trash, or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Make sure your chimney has spark arrestors on it to keep sparks from flying out the chimney and landing on your roof, a neighbor's roof, or in flammable trees and landscaping.
  • Remove tree branches hanging above the chimney, flues, and vents.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

If you can see any soot around your fireplace, it's time to call in the professionals to see what's going on.

Not responsible for advice not taken


Zoey the Cool Cat

Next post will be:

Christmas is just around the corner!


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Posted by

Anne M Costello 

Anne M. Costello
Weidel Realtors Newtown/Yardley Office
10 North Main Street  • Yardley, PA 19067
Cell: 215 771-1642 • Office: 215-493-1954
Email: acostello@weidel.com
URL: www.AnneMCostello.com

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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I RARELY get questions about smoking in homes.  I DO get questions about pets and pet hair and potential for health hazards from this source.  Funny!  I sleep with 2 dogs and I am allergic to cat hair!

Aug 02, 2011 12:20 AM #1
Barbara Hensley
RE/MAX Properties - Rockwall, TX
Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas

Anne - this is an excellent choice for a re-blog.  I missed the original so thanks for putting this one out again.  Enjoy your day!

Aug 02, 2011 12:21 AM #2
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Anne,

I see this, but not as bad as what was in the photo's.

The homeowners just need to be educated on how to build a fire  and maintain a fireplace.


Clint Mckie  

Aug 02, 2011 12:23 AM #3
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

I saw and commented on Russel's post. His title  is so appropriately chosen! Nice of you to pass this along.

Aug 02, 2011 12:24 AM #4
Terri Poehler
Realtor - Coral Springs, FL
Coral Springs Real Estate Agent

Thanks for re posting. We don't see alot of these down here in the Sunshine State. Especially not over-smoked!

Aug 02, 2011 12:34 AM #5
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Good selection for a re-blog.  Russel Ray is one of my favorite ActiveRain bloggers.

 Life is good!

Aug 02, 2011 12:52 AM #6
Anne M. Costello
Weidel Realtors - Yardley, PA

Wallace; Russel's post about the fireplace was very informative - especially for folks new to having one. Home maintenance is so important!

Barb: Reblogging is a great tool! We can't see them all and then do any business.

Clint: Surely the worst example brings home the point.

Gary: Russel's title really make you want to read the post!

Terri: True, the southern tier probably doesn't need because of the climate!

Roy: I agree. He takes his time, writes well and provides useful information.


All: Have a great day and week!

Aug 02, 2011 01:03 AM #7
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

I hope you are having a good week.  Thanks for your comments on my posts.  Give your camera a workout and post some flower pictures.

 Life is better when there are flowers to photograph.

Aug 04, 2011 12:35 AM #8
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