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What is Soot and why is it in my Loft?

Despite being a very common feature in all areas of city life, as well as being emblematic of the industrial-era, the true dangers of soot are actually relatively unknown.

What is Soot?

Visibly, soot is a dusty black powder that appears as a by-product of fire or any form of combustion. Formed from any combination of metals, soils, acids, dust and other chemicals, the most common cause of soot is from the burning of fossil fuels in industry, manufacturing and domestic fireplaces.

Soot requires a fuel to be burned at a relatively low temperature in order to form, with very little oxygen present (hence its prevalence in chimneys and tunnels). The fuel is disseminated into tiny particles, of which soot is included.

Why is Soot Dangerous?

As well as causing a nuisance when it comes to cleaning up, soot also presents a threat to health and safety. Many of the hazards derive from the minute size of the soot particles, which generally measure in at PM 2.5 (PM = picometer). To put that into context, beach sand usually clocks in at around PM 90, with human hair ranging between PM 50 and PM 70.

This means that particles can be easily inhaled into the lungs, with the potentially toxic compound being linked to respiratory diseases in the past. These were particularly prevalent through the Industrial Revolution, where heart disease, asthma, bronchitis and more were rife.

Soot also poses a structural hazard, especially in chimneys. Here, blockages can occur from soot build up, increasing the amount of smoke produced by a fire. With less oxygen drawn in due to the soot obstruction, the amount of fuel required to be burnt becomes less economical.

Soot in the Loft

Flue damage in a chimney that might go through the loft area could cause a number of issues. Anything that negatively affects a chimney’s ability to remove hazardous gases, drawing them up and away from the home, presents a danger.

A crack in the flue could see soot leaking into your loft – something that you may not immediately be aware of until it is too late. As well as leaving an unsightly black stain across your wall, you could be exposing you and your family to the health risks associated with soot build up.

Any qualified chimney sweep will be able to inspect for flue damage in the loft area, advising as to the best course of action to rectify any hazards discovered.

Similarly, all professional loft conversion companies will take chimney stacks and their potential dangers into account when designing your extension, ensuring that all works are carried out in respect to upholding safety.

LMB Loft Conversions are the leading providers of loft and garage conversions in the Croydon and wider London area. Our expert team are on hand to take care of every stage of your conversion, from the initial consultation through to the design, build and completion.

For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at LMB today.

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