What Is Stage 3 Creosote and How Do You Deal With It?

Creosote is a toxic byproduct of burning wood. The black, tarry substance can build up in your chimney over time, and not only is it corrosive and damaging to the flue liner, but it also presents a serious fire hazard. In fact, a dirty chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires! In this article, we will discuss what leads to stage 3 creosote and how to deal with it.

What is Creosote and How Does it Build Up?

Creosote is a substance that develops as the byproducts of burning wood adhere to the inside of your chimney. The byproducts, including smoke, water vapor, gasses, particles of burned wood and tar fog, rise up the chimney as you burn your firewood. When they reach the cooler parts of the chimney, they rapidly cool and condense on top of each other until they form a black sticky substance known as creosote.

Stage 1 Creosote

The early stages of creosote buildup usually indicate that your chimney has not been cleaned in some time. This type of creosote is dusty, flaky, and relatively easy to remove with a chimney sweep.

Stage 2 Creosote

Stage 2 creosote is harder and blacker than stage 1. It is more difficult to remove, but must be dealt with before it progresses to stage 3.

Stage 3 Creosote

Stage 3 creosote is the most severe stage. It is more concentrated, tarry, and far more likely to cause chimney fires. Creosote also restricts air movement within the chimney and blocks parts of the air column. Surprisingly, this stage can develop in a single burning season, and should only be removed by a licensed chimney sweep, using specialized equipment.

Why is Creosote Buildup So Dangerous?

The biggest danger of stage 3 creosote is that it can cause chimney fires. When the buildup ignites, it burns very hot and may spread to other areas if not quickly contained. In addition, stage III creosote will damage or destroy your flue liner as well as the masonry within the chimney system.

What Can You Do to Prevent Creosote Buildup?

The best way to prevent creosote buildup is to have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your fireplace, you should have it swept at least once a year. A good rule of thumb is to schedule a cleaning after 75 fires, or one cord of wood. Also, make sure you are using seasoned wood in your fireplace—freshly-cut wood contains a lot more moisture and causes more creosote buildup.

If it has been a while since you last had your chimney cleaned, contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified technicians!

Here’s What to Do if You Have Stage 3 Creosote

If you have stage III creosote, do not attempt to clean it yourself. Contact a licensed chimney sweep and schedule an appointment for professional cleaning. The sweep will use specialized equipment to remove the creosote buildup and restore your chimney to a safe condition.

For more information on stage III creosote or any other type of fireplace or chimney service, give us a call at 510.521.4088!

How and Why To Install a New Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy the warm glow of a fire during the winter. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an open fire, did you know that installing a fireplace insert could improve your home’s heating efficiency by 70 percent or more? It’s true – a new fireplace insert is one of the best ways to improve the comfort and value of your home. In this article, we’ll discuss how to install a fireplace insert in your home and the many benefits of doing so.

What is a Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert is a type of wood (or gas) appliance without legs, and they are designed to be placed inside an existing wood fireplace. Fireplace inserts consist of a metal box that is inserted seamlessly into the fireplace opening. Because of their design, fireplace inserts are much more efficient than traditional wood-burning fireplaces. They dramatically increase heating capacity and wood-burning efficiency while still enjoying the unmatched warmth, ambiance, and nostalgia that only wood fireplaces can provide.

Choosing a New Insert

The first step in installing a new fireplace insert is to choose the right model. There are many different types of inserts available on the market, so it’s important to select one that fits your needs and lifestyle.

When choosing an insert, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

  • The size of your fireplace opening
  • The type of fuel you want to use (wood or gas)
  • Your desired heating capacity
  • The efficiency rating of the insert
  • The style of the insert

Once you’ve considered these factors, it’s time to start shopping!

How to Install a Fireplace Insert

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect fireplace insert, it’s time to install it in your home. This job is best done by a professional because it requires special tools and expertise. Our local technicians with The Irish Sweep take a unique approach to installing wood-burning fireplace inserts, incorporating the style and design of each individual fireplace.

If you’re interested in having a wood-burning fireplace insert installed in your home, be sure to contact The Irish Sweep. We’ll install it safely and efficiently. And don’t forget annual maintenance, which will keep your insert running smoothly for decades to come.

If you’re thinking about learning how to install a fireplace insert yourself, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take the proper safety precautions. This is not a quick and easy DIY!

The Benefits of a New Insert

There are many benefits to installing a new fireplace insert in your home. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Increased heating capacity with less smoke
  • A dramatic increase in wood-burning efficiency
  • Increased home value
  • The ability to zone heat your home
  • Reduced energy costs

If you’re looking for a way to improve the comfort and value of your home, installing a new fireplace insert is a great option.

Talk to Us

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace all winter and for years to come. We take great pride in offering our fireplace installation services to the resident community and the local Bay Area. To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or visit our contact page.


How Often Do You Need a Chimney Cleaner/Sweep?

A favorite pastime of so many of us is sitting and telling stories around a crackling fire. When the fire dies down and the embers go out, though, there’s ash and soot to be swept up. That same soot can build up in the interior of your chimney and cause problems if ignored for too long. This points to the question: how often do you need the best Danville chimney cleaner or chimney sweep?

The National Fire Protection Association Recommends:

Standard 211 of the National Fire Protection Association states that, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This once-a-year national safety standard is the recommendation that most chimney sweeps will give you.

What If I Don’t Use the Fireplace Often?

It’s easy to assume that you can leave your fireplace and chimney alone if you’re not lighting fires. However, chimney damage can occur from other external factors such as earthquakes, storms, and moisture. Without an annual inspection, you might be accidentally ignoring worsening conditions that may ultimately damage the structure of your home.

  • Structural Damage: Wet weather can weaken the joints of your chimney, leading to cracks or structural shifts. It can also let unwanted moisture into your home. If not repaired in a timely manner, damage may become so severe that the chimney collapses.
  • Pests: An unused chimney can be the perfect warm, dry place for insects and animals to settle into. Squirrels, birds, spiders, and even mice can crawl and nest in your chimney, wreaking havoc on its masonry.

Creosote Buildup Requires a Best Danville Chimney Cleaner

If you use your fireplace every so often during the colder months, you may have noticed a black, tar-like, shiny or fuzzy substance on the interior walls of the chimney. This substance is called creosote, a highly flammable chemical byproduct of burning wood. If you notice creosote buildup, call a chimney sweep before you light another fire, otherwise you might be looking at a fire a little larger than you anticipated.

5 Surprising Benefits of a Clean Chimney

  1. A safe and efficient fireplace
  2. Reduced smoky odors
  3. Discover chimney damage before a costly repair is necessary
  4. Prevent corrosion of chimney walls due to creosote buildup
  5. Prevents carbon monoxide inhalation and poisoning

The Irish Sweep Makes Chimney Maintenance Easy

An annual cleaning by the best Danville chimney cleaner like The Irish Sweep is an imperative step to proper chimney maintenance. Our technicians are proud of our 40+ years of experience servicing the Bay Area, and there’s no chimney problem we haven’t seen before! We can inspect the inside and outside of your chimney in detail to deep clean, discover damage, and recommend any repairs.

Schedule Our Best Danville Chimney Cleaner Now

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace all winter and for years to come. We take great pride in offering our Bay Area chimney cleaning services to the resident community and the local Bay Area.

To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Here is a little known fact about creosote: It oxidizes. Creosote that was not able to be removed at the time of the last service appointment will actually change chemical composition, rendering it a substance that can now be removed. It’s never too late to schedule a chimney cleaning!

How Much Does it Cost to Hire Bay Area Chimney Cleaner/Sweep?

Looking to Hire a Local Bay Area chimney cleaner Expert? Chimney maintenance is a task that often flies under the radar, but it’s extremely important to preserving the structural integrity of your home and reducing flammable buildup in the chimney’s interior. When shopping for a reputable chimney sweep in the Bay Area, here’s how much you can expect to pay for the highest quality services.

What Sets a Chimney Cleaning Company Apart?

There’s no industry-wide standard or regulation for chimney cleaners or chimney sweeps. As a layperson, it can be difficult to know whether or not you can trust a chimney cleaning company or not. After all, a chimney is a structural element of your house: an improperly inspected chimney could be secretly harboring cracks, buildup, and damage that could compromise the safety of your home.

Licensing and Certification

The Irish Sweep proudly holds a masonry contractors license issued by the State of California and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). CSIA-certified companies receive top education and training in the field, and also sign a code of ethics promising only excellent service. A CSIA license and certification is a guarantee that you are working with seasoned experts in chimney safety.

Qualities of Reputable Chimney Cleaners/Sweeps

  1. Excellent customer reviews or testimonials
  2. Licensed and insured
  3. Decades of experience
  4. Transparency about pricing
  5. Prompt service
  6. Professional advice about continued chimney maintenance
  7. Range of comprehensive services

How Much Does a Bay Area Chimney Cleaner/Sweep Cost?

Expect a wide range of prices when searching for a Bay Area chimney cleaning service. Since pricing may vary from company to company, it’s a good idea to check out the licensing and certification status, client reviews, and real-world indicators of top-notch service providers.

  • A basic chimney checkup and cleaning from a CSIA-certified company typically ranges between $200 and $300.
  • More intensive services, such as a thorough inspection with a chimney camera, may range from $100 to $500.
  • If your chimney has weathered significant damage, such as from a recent earthquake or storm, you need a detailed inspection to check for and resolve structural damage. This service may range from $1,000 to $5,000.

What Else Affects Chimney Cleaning Costs?

Any manufacturer will tell you that maintenance is key to reducing costs long-term. An annually cleaned, inspected chimney will last longer and function better than a neglected chimney. If you can’t remember your last chimney cleaning, it’s probably time for one. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to schedule your appointment once every 75 fires or per every cord of wood burned.

We are your local Bay Area chimney cleaner with 40+ years of experience.

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning Today

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace for years to come. We take great pride in offering our Bay Area chimney cleaning services to the resident community and the local Bay Area.

To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Enjoy a crackling fire this Holiday season with the knowledge that your chimney is clean and safe.

Orinda Chimney Cleaning Services : Truth About Spare the Air Days

After another hot dry summer season with raging California wildfires and ozone pollution, it might feel like sitting beside a cozy fire at the fireplace over the Holidays are a long way off. Yet the Holidays are just around the corner! Your friendly local Orinda Chimney Cleaning Services can help.

Fireplace Safety

It is perfectly safe to have a wood fire if safe burn practices are followed. Staying aware of Spare the Air days and regularly getting the chimney inspected and cleaned can allow us to enjoy our fireplace this winter.

7 Safe Burn Practices:

  1. Burn seasoned wood, or wood that has been dried for at least one year. This significantly reduces smoke than fresh, “wet” wood.
  2. At no time burn plastics, garbage, paper, or other harmful substances.
  3. On no occasion use a liquid firelighter to start a fire in the fireplace
  4. Get a chimney inspection and cleaning annually.
  5. Keep flammable materials like curtains and furniture a safe distance from the fireplace.
  6. Make sure that nobody sits so close to a fire that clothing could catch fire
  7. Check the local Spare the Air alerts before burning.

When can we have a cozy fire?

A family gathering over the Holidays is often cozier and more memorable with a lovely traditional fire burning. We can use our fireplace when an alert has not been issued. Most people don’t realize that Spare the Air days are normally few and far between. In 2021, there have only been five no-burn days so far.

Understanding Spare the Air Days

In the Bay Area, there are two major air pollutants to pay attention to: ozone and fine particulate matter. When these pollutants are in high concentrations and deemed unhealthy for long-term exposure, a Spare the Air alert will go into effect.

  • Ozone is the primary ingredient in summer smog. It comes from a reaction between sunlight and pollutants emitted by refineries, cars, power and chemical plants, as well as other industrial facilities.
  • Fine Particulate Matter are small particles which can travel into the lungs. Fine particulate matter comes from vehicle exhaust, chemical reactions to pollutants and other materials. Wildfires can cause particulate matter to travel hundreds of miles.

Did you know….

In the Bay Area, mandatory Spare the Air Days begin on November 1st and end on the last day of February of any year?

Check the Bay Area’s current air quality on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District organization’s website.

How Can The Irish Sweep help?

Regular chimney cleaning and inspection services help preserve the structural integrity of the chimney. If a fireplace hasn’t been used over the summer, perhaps a squirrel or other creature has made its home there!

4 Main Reasons for a Chimney Inspection and Clean

  1. Prevents carbon monoxide poisoning
  2. Prevention of chimney collapse- both the summer and winter months can be harsh on the integrity of the chimney. A dry climate along with heat and strong winds over the summer can harm the integrity of the cement and brickwork. Add in the fact that earthquakes, no matter how small can create tiny fractures in the brickwork. A chimney inspection can be a proactive way to detect this and prevent further or costly damage.
  3. Reduces the likelihood of chimney fires from dust residues and creosote build-up
  4. Reduces the chance of the house smelling smokey

We are your friendly local Orinda Chimney Cleaning Services.

Schedule an Orinda Chimney Cleaning

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace for years to come. We take great pride as being your neighbor offering Orinda chimney cleaning services to the resident community and the local Bay Area.

To schedule an appointment with our professional Orinda Chimney Cleaning team, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Enjoy the crackle of a yule log in a roaring fire this Holiday season.

Preventing Chimney Fires

Call the chimney cleaning company, because the Holiday season is almost here. For some, nothing says the Holidays more than sipping a hot cup of cocoa beside a crackling fire in the fireplace. Feeling the warmth and enjoying the glow of the embers as they waft up the chimney. Before we get too comfortable though, here are a few things to watch out for which might save lives start to learn tips on preventing chimney fires.

Preventing Chimney Fires

You May Not Notice a Chimney Fire

Did you know that most chimney fires go undetected?

Sometimes, chimney fires won’t have enough fuel or air to cause a noticeable fire. Even though there is no sign of visible combustion, these slow-burning fires reach high temperatures and can cause enormous damage to the chimney structure.

8 Main Signs that a professional chimney sweep will look for when providing chimney cleaning services and inspection

  1. A distorted or discolored rain cap
  2. Roof damage near the chimney
  3. Discoloration from smoke escaping through masonry joints or tile liners
  4. A buildup of a creosote residue: black or brown, highly combustible residue, especially if it has a puffy or “honey-comb” appearance
  5. Evidence of heat damage
  6. Cracked or compromised brickwork
  7. Missing cement/mortar between brickwork
  8. Cracked, collapsed, or missing flue tiles

Best Practice

A damaged chimney poses a danger to the home and those who live there. Regularly scheduled chimney cleaning services and inspections are the best and most proactive way to keep the chimney safe and reduce problems.

How to Prevent Chimney Fires

It’s tempting sometimes to add items to the fire especially if they give off pretty colors or cause a pop! Resist the temptation to throw anything and everything flammable into the fireplace. To prevent toxic gases and fumes in the air, buildup of flammable creosote on the chimney walls, and other combustible elements from forming, only use what is safe to burn.

6 Common Items NOT to Burn

  1. Cardboard – especially with printed ink, may release toxic fumes when burned.
  2. Unseasoned wood – also known as wet wood. Unseasoned wood contains a high percentage of water and can create thick, excessive smoke when burned.
  3. Christmas trees – as tempting as it might be, not only are Christmas trees unseasoned wood, if preservatives have been added to the water to prevent needle drop, this preservative is now being burned into the environment.
  4. Paper – can easily go airborne once it catches fire. Stray embers are a leading cause of fires. Colored paper including wrapping paper is especially dangerous as it releases carcinogens and chemical fumes.
  5. Painted or treated wood – when burned, painted or treated wood releases toxic chemicals into the air as well as sometimes smelling bad.
  6. Material products– sometimes thought of as an easy way to light a fire, materials such as clothing release dangerous carcinogens and chemical fumes because of dyes and fire retardant substances.

To enjoy a fire, burn seasoned wood, keep the damper open, and opt for an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. The cozy warmth of a fireplace in wintertime can help get us into the holiday spirit.

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning To Prevent Chimney Fires

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help safely maintain and enjoy a wood-burning fireplace and chimney for years to come.

To schedule an appointment with a professional, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.