Fireplaces offer a lot of charm and utility, but they can be dangerous and an eyesore when they’re covered in creosote. Mason Mark McCullough helps a homeowner remove creosote from a fireplace with a simple process.
What is Creosote?
Creosote is a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, and it’s common in fireplaces. If the fires aren’t hot enough or the wood is wet, creosote can build upon the sides of chimneys and fireplaces. A little bit is normal, particularly the sooty, flaky stuff. However, if it’s shiny and oily, it can be very dangerous and cause a chimney fire.
When a homeowner realized her best efforts cleaning her fireplace weren’t working, she called mason Mark McCullough for help removing creosote.
How to Remove Creosote
Creosote comes in stages. The sooty stuff is stage 1, while the flaky stuff is stage 2. Stage 3 is the most dangerous, and it’s the liquid, shiny, oily, tar-like substance that builds up.
These steps will take you through the process of removing these stages.
- Start by putting on your dust mask, safety glasses, and gloves. Creosote can be tough to control during cleaning, and it’s not good to breathe in or get in your eyes.
- Start by scraping the majority of the creosote off with the putty knife. This tool will do the majority of the work, removing stage 1 and 2 creosote and removing the chunks and flakes from the brick.
- Next, move to the grinder and wire wheel and the drill and abrasive blade. The grinder can do the majority of the surface, while the drill is helpful for the joints between the bricks. Use these tools to scour the brick’s surface and remove as much of the creosote as possible. This will remove most of the stage 2 and stage 3 creosote.
- Clean up any dust and grit with the wet/dry vacuum. Be sure to work the nozzle into all of the nooks and crannies in the masonry surfaces to remove as much creosote as possible.
- It’s time to use chemicals next to get rid of any remaining creosote. Start by wetting the brick with water by dipping the scrub brush in a bucket and dampening the brick.
- Spray the brick and stone cleaner onto the surface. Apply liberally and allow it to soak into the surface a bit.
- Scrub the bricks with the scrub brush, rinsing it every so often in the bucket of water. Switch to a clean bucket of water and rinse the brick with the brush and water. This should remove all the remaining creosote, making the fireplace safe to use again.
Mason Mark McCullough helps a homeowner remove stubborn creosote from a brick fireplace.
Results may vary depending on the amount and age of creosote buildup.
To get started, use a metal putty knife to chip away as much of the stage 2 creosote as possible. Stage 2 creosote can be identified by its flaky texture.
Next, use a handheld grinder with a wire wheel brush and rust stripper attachments to continue to remove Stage 2 as well as Stage 3. Mark advises starting with the wire wheel brush to remove the more stubborn wax-like build-up, which is Stage 3.
To remove the remaining creosote, Mark recommends saturating the brick with water using a scrub brush. Apply a brick and stone cleaner of your choice. (Follow product instructions for application). Rinse the treated area with a scrub brush and repeat until satisfied with the results.
All supplies are available at your local home store.