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I've read a bit about tarry, shiny creosote, and I don't have that. What I have is a thin coating of soot and some flaky pieces here and there. Is this something I should worry about, or just start burning in my fireplace again this season like normal?

  • If you're not sure, hiring a chimney sweep to clean and inspect it is not that expensive... It sounds like you don't have anything hazardous, but I wouldn't take my word for that! – keshlam Nov 27 '15 at 21:31
  • Thanks for the feedback! I'm fairly certain it's okay, but I wanted to get some second (third, fourth) opinions. – Andy Nov 27 '15 at 22:32
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Ash is not flammable, and ash can sometimes be in flake form. If that is what you have, there is no danger.

Even if there is some creosote buildup, that is not necessarily dangerous either. What is dangerous if there is enough heat and creosote thickness for the creosote to burn long enough that it overheats the chimney causing structural weakening, or emits sparks which ignite combustibles outdoors like a wood shake roof, trees, shrubbery, or other structures.

If creosote buildup is minimal (less than 1/4 inch), it can be safely removed by building a hot fire to burn it out. If you aren't sure about doing that, don't hesitate to bring in an expert: either a firefighter or a chimney professional, though the latter tend to have a conflict-of-interest.

  • Perfect answer, and exactly what I wanted to hear. – Andy Nov 27 '15 at 23:42

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