Do You Like Your Fireplace Flues To Be Creamy Or Chunky?

Reblogger Debbie Cook
Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc MD 82788

In the Silver Spring and Takoma Park, Maryland area we love our fireplaces - especially during the days and nights we've had latley.  

Most of the older houses in Silver Spring and Takoma Park have cozy wood burning masonry fireplaces with some age on them.

It is always a good idea to have your fireplace chimney swept and inspected.

This good advice comes from a great local Home Inspector:

Original content by Jay Markanich 3380-000723

It's a question that needs to be answered - do you like your fireplace flues to be creamy or chunky?

Well, you know the difference.  One has no crunch and the other does.

So, understanding the difference, looking up into this fireplace flue, which is it?

Creamy or chunky?

Let's think.

The chunky stuff is composed of soot and creosote.

Soot and creosote are a buildup of gases and "stuff" from wood that isn't heated up enough to exit the flue.

Instead it accumulates.

As it accumulates it gets thicker.

The fire department recommends that chimney flues be swept of such buildup when it accumulates to about 1/8" in thickness.  Also, once cleaned, the flue can be inspected for other issues - movement and cracking and so forth.

At 1/4" thickness it is potentially flammable, and the cause of chimney fires.  At that thickness you often smell carbon as well - burned toast more or less.

Oh, the harder the wood the hotter the temperature, so the slower the accumulation of buildup.

Pine, 2x4s, those cutsie little fire logs do not burn so hot, and so they contribute soot and creosote more quickly.  And, I'm told, buildup of critical mass can be reached in as few as 10 or 12 fires!  Harder woods not so quickly. 


AND, be sure to burn good, dried hardwood!  That is defined as wood stored under cover for a year, and stacked in a crisscross pattern so it dries well.

A cord of wood is defined as 4'x4'x8' (think solid geometry).  And it should be stacked in a side-by-side pattern.  If the guys with the pick-up truck selling "dried" hardwood in your neighborhood want to stack it crisscross it is NOT a cord!  And it's probably not dried either...

But, BUT!, pay attention to the thickness of any buildup in your flue!  Chimney fires are NEVER a good thing.  Have it swept professionally.  Regular inspections and cleaning are a Best Practice!  There are things advertised that you can throw in the fire, said to eliminate the buildup as they burn.  But, sweeping is the recommended way to go.  Ask your Fire Marshall.

My recommendation:  yes, it requires that you peek your head in, preferably with a big-boy flashlight, and look up and see what soot and creosote accumulation you have.  Your flue will appreciate your diligence.  You want creamy, not chunky.  FYI, should I show up for lunch - I happen to like the extra-chunky peanut butter on my sandwiches.  It's more fun to eat!  Oh, and jam, not jelly.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


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Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Great reblog choice!  I'll head over to Jay's blog!  Thank you!

Jan 04, 2014 11:00 PM #1
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

Thanks for the re-blog.  I have two fireplaces in my center entrance colonial here in the Boston area.  I am going to go look right now. 

Jan 06, 2014 05:30 AM #2
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thank you for the reblog Debbie.  Growing up in Kensington I went to Silver Spring a lot.  Driving through it not long ago I did not recognize a whole lot!

Chimneys and fireplaces are popular over there though!

Jan 07, 2014 06:22 PM #3
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Good choice for a re-blog. Jay always provides sound advice for home owners.

Jan 09, 2014 04:57 AM #4
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

Thanks all for the comments - Didn't you just want to run in and check your fireplace flue after reading this?  I know I did!

Jan 09, 2014 05:06 AM #5
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Debbie Cook

Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate
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