If your brick house gets damaged in a fire or a fireplace made of brick, there’s a good chance your bricks developing soot. Soot, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a black substance formed by combustion or separated from fuel during combustion, rising in fine particles, and adhering to the sides of the chimney or pipe conveying the smoke.” Soot is not only cosmetically unappealing, but it also presents a wide range of health problems. Here’s what you need to know in order to identify and remove soot from your home.

What Does Soot Look Like?

Soot is likely to form wherever something burns, such as a brick fireplace or chimney. It can also appear on the outside of your home due to fire and smoke damage. According to Restoration Master Finder, soot occurs due to charred remains of wood, coal or oils. The incomplete burning of these materials leaves behind a black, tarry substance. It’s also referred to as black carbon and is commonly mistaken for mold & mildew by homeowners.

A simple method for identifying soot vs. mold/mildew with a paper towel and a little bit of bleach. According to a post from Clayton Homes’ Home Care Guide, if the substance doesn’t come off after rubbing it, it is most likely soot. It’s important to know when your brickwork needs maintenance. Having an inspection done is the best way to confirm the presence of soot.

Why is Soot Dangerous?

Breathing in carcinogens is a known health hazard. Constant exposure to smoke and carbon particles can lead to respiratory issues and cardiovascular issues similar to those who smoke or have asthma. According to a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, people who are often exposed to the chemical may be susceptible to developing lung cancer and other ailments. The study showed that chimney sweepers were especially at-risk due to the work environment. Being proactive in getting rid of soot is the only solution, and it’s relatively easy.

How do I Remove Soot?

You can remove soot from brickwork with the right tools and productivity. It’s important to act fast on cleaning soot due to brick’s high porosity. In a video from This Old House, they demonstrate a method for cleaning masonry work using acid-based cleaners. Beware, acid can cause physical harm, so you should consult a professional before taking a DIY approach.

When to Call a Professional

Whether it’s inside or outside of your home, it’s important to contact a professional if you suspect soot. The health hazards of breathing in carcinogens present long-lasting effects. If your brick is unsalvagable due to fire damage and incomplete burning of materials, it’s likely you’ll have to replace your brickwork. Call on Champion Brick, we specialize in brickwork & stone veneer installation across southeastern Wisconsin.