After wood or coal has burned in a fireplace over a period of time, the family is likely to be exposed to the dangers of creosote. Creosote is a chemical that is left behind on the fireplace and in the chimney after these materials have been burned. It is important for homeowners to be aware of this potential problem and to maintain their fireplaces accordingly.
If there is a possibility that the dangers of creosote are present, the first step is to look inside the chimney. It is easy to see an accumulation of this dangerous chemical inside of the chimney and the fireplace. If it appears to have built up to an amount of more than one eighth of an inch, it may be time for a good cleaning.
Of course, getting a good look inside of the chimney requires the inspector to climb up into the roof. The majority of creosote accumulation is going to be found near the top of the chimney, not at the base near the fireplace. For safety and convenience reasons, it is a good idea for homeowners to hire professional chimney and fireplace inspectors to handle this for them.
If the inspection shows that there is, in fact, a dangerous amount of creosote in the fireplace, this is not a cleaning job that homeowners should take on themselves. Cleaning a chimney is a complicated task and should be left to someone who is specifically trained for the job. An inexperienced person may not only put themselves and the chimney at risk, but they will most likely end up having to call a professional anyway.
The presence of creosote in a chimney or fireplace can pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of the family. A homeowner who is unsure as to whether or not they are at risk should call a professional to inspect their chimney. When taking care of a creosote problem, it is best to hire a certified chimney sweep.