Soot and Creosote in Chimneys

Why Chimney Sweeping is Important

Soot is a general term that refers to the black impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of solid fuels such as coal or wood.

It is made up of the unburned hydrocarbons, natural resins, waxes and oils derived from the heat source material. It is sticky in nature, corrosive and highly flammable. As an air born dust it can also be highly explosive (this is why chimneys should never be swept when the fire is lit). Over a short period of time, this material (also known as coal soot or wood creosote) can build into thick highly combustible layers in the chimney stack which can ignite explosively and cause an uncontrollable chimney fire. Burning debris can fall onto the floor in front of the fireplace leading to even more serious fires.

Soot dust is smelly and known to be carcinogenic, so when sweeping chimneys it is critical that this dust is carefully controlled and cleaned up thoroughly. Chimneys which have not been regularly swept are prone to pressurised loose soot falls which can result in large quantities of soot falling down the chimney, striking the hearth and spreading into the living quarters, creating a situation which requires thorough and expensive cleaning techniques. Best to employ a fully insured professional chimney sweep or chimney engineer for this type of work and always obtain a receipt or certificate to prove to your insurance company that the work has been completed on a regular basis.

We are a Birmingham based family business with over 25 years experience in the specialist fields of fires, flues, and chimneys for smoke control areas. We are happy to travel throughout the UK, and would be pleased to discuss any specific projects or requirements, clients may have.


Showroom Open Thursday, Friday and Saturdays: by
Cottage Fires and Woodstoves

1257-59 Pershore Rd
Birmingham B30 2YT
Tel 0121 458 6550

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Be Aware!

Professionally installed liners for woodburning, solid fuel and gas fires are required by law to comply with current Building Regulations and Health and Safety requirements.

Only use a specially trained and registered HETAS or GAS SAFE Heating Engineer to carry out such work.

For further details about the different types and styles of woodburning stoves and fireplaces available, please visit