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One of the reasons we put in a coal stove as an alternative heat source was because several sources said coal stoves don't have creosote buildup, reducing the risk of chimney fire.

The instructions that came with the stove, however, state that we have to inspect the chimney for creosote buildup and clean it out once a year.

So do coal stoves have buildup leading to chimney fire risk, or don't they?

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Yes, to the best of my knowledge all combustion creates some form of creosote regardless of the fuel source. Wood tar and Coal tar are the most abundant and well known forms of creosote.

Wikipedia

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Having worked with coal-fired steam locomotives, I can say that even capably-fired coal leaves build-up. Just like we must clean our fire tubes, the asker needs to clean his chimney. We have the advantage of always tending our fire to ensure good combustion and have a short hot flue. A fireplace or stove lacks both those advantages. Clean your chimney. Chimney fires are awful (former firefighter too). –  Jeff Ferland Jan 23 '12 at 1:10
    
Thanks! I'll have to schedule a chimney sweep this spring! –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 23 '12 at 2:34

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