Soot collects on the inside surfaces of the firebox, thespace above the firebox called the smoke chamber, and the tube leading up to the roof, called the flue.
If burning wood, more soot gets deposited compared to a gas-onlyfire.
If burning wood, one can reduce the amount of soot depositedby using “seasoned” wood, meaning it has been allowed to air dry for a few months before burning, and by placing the wood on a grate positioned toward the
back of the fireplace. The wood shouldbe arranged so that there is some space between the pieces of wood. The goal is to have an efficient fire whichconverts the most energy contained in the wood to light and heat and which
produces the least amount of smoke.
If you get a fire going in the fireplace and then stepoutside and look at the top of the chimney, if you see very little or no smoke, or a little gray smoke, that indicatesyou have a hot, efficient fire. If yousee a lot of dark smoke, that indicates either the wood is too wet or the wood is not arranged properly to burn efficiently.
Eventually on this website we will have a video that shows oneor two ways to arrange the wood for a fire that results in an efficient fire with the least amount of smoke. The smoke contains unburned particles of carbon and tarswhich can condense on the cooler walls of the inside of the chimney in the form of soot or tars.
The tars may collect on the inside surfaces initially as asemi-liquid “goo” which drips down. Asthe heat dries out the goo, it can turn hard. Then we call it creosote. Creosote burns more readily and hotter compared to the softer soot whichalso gets deposited inside the chimney.
Creosote is usually much harder to remove compared to plainold soot.
Gas-only fires do not result in creosote deposits.
Gas-only fires usually do not result in as much soot deposited,compared to a wood fire. chimney sweep los angeles can oftengo years between cleanings when burning gas only.
When we do a chimney cleaning we clean out all three partsof the chimney, the firebox, the smoke chamber above that, and the flue above the smoke chamber.
The ashes on the floor of the firebox also get removed andhauled away.
It is done in such a way that soot does not escape thefireplace. That is, all the dirty stuffstays inside the chimney. It doesn’tcome out into the room. Then the sootand creosote is brushed out and collected in bags and/or a shop vac.
If you think you might need your chimney cleaned, but aren’tsure, you can poke your head in the firebox and shine a flashlight up into the smoke chamber and flue areas. If you seethe soot getting to be a quarter of an inch or more thick on the surfaces, it should be cleaned.
If you have a fireplace which used to “draw” well, meaningall the smoke went up the flue, but lately you notice some smoke spilling out of the fireplace into the room, chances are the system might need to be cleaned, or else something may be clogging things up at the top of the flue opening.