Chimneys need to be cleaned to maintain a strong draft and safety, reducing the chance of a chimney fire. Build-up of creosote only 1/4" thick poses a high threat of a chimney fire. In a fireplace creosote can build up fast, especially with unseasoned wood. Creosote is extremely flammable. Cleaning a fireplace more than one time a year is never a bad idea. If a chimney fire has occurred in your home, have your chimney thoroughly inspected by a certified professional chimney sweep before using it again.
Warning: When cleaning chimneys by any method, always use proper safety measures and use common sense. Use caution when handling brushes, wire brush can injure eyes and puncture skin. All sizes and types of chimney brushes and chimney cleaning accessories are available.
Equipment Needed to Clean a Chimney:
In order to properly clean your chimney you will need the following items. Make sure you have a Correctly sized chimney brush, chimney brush rods, fireplace cover (for use with a vacuum or to contain dust), tape, metal bucket, shovel and broom, vacuum cleaner, and a flashlight.
Chimney Cleaning Directions:
Measure your chimney carefully to determine the correct brush size to select. Carefully measure the inside of the chimney diameter. NOTE: An oversize brush will not improve cleaning action and can become lodged in the chimney. An undersize brush will not provide the pressure on the walls for proper cleaning.
IMPORTANT: COMPLETELY EXTINGUISH THE FIRE BEFORE CLEANING. BE SURE THE CHIMNEY IS COLD THE ENTIRE LENGTH. BE AWARE OF HOT ASHES AND DISPOSE OF SAFELY.
There are three common methods used to control the brush for effective cleaning.
- Rod Method, Top Down (Preferred Method):Seal off fireplace or stove opening to prevent soot from entering the home. For fireplaces the Fireplace Cover is a great way to seal off the opening and allow a vacuum cleaner to attach to keep the dust out of your home. Attach the brush securely to the rod and lower into the top of the chimney, add more rods as necessary to reach the bottom. Work the brush up and down various times until the chimney is clean. Inspect the chimney with a flashlight to look to be sure you have cleaned it completely.
- Rod Method, Bottom-up:Insert brush and rod up through the fireplace damper or chimney clean-out door. Add more rods as necessary to reach the top of the chimney. This method is often dusty since sealing the opening cannot be done during cleaning. Cover the area around opening to prevent staining rugs, furniture, etc… Constantly have a vacuum running to control the dust. Use a flashlight to look into the chimney to be sure you have cleaned it completely. Work the brush up and down several times until the chimney is clean.
- Line and Weight Method:Seal off fireplace or stove opening to prevent soot from entering the home. Securely attach a small 20-pound (at least) weight to one end of the brush with one accessory pull ring and attach a rope that is more than long enough to reach the bottom, to the other brush end. Lower the brush into the chimney and up again until the chimney is clean. Use a flashlight to look into the chimney to be sure you have cleaned it completely.
For All Methods: Sweep or vacuum up all soot prior to using stove or fireplace. Be especially careful to check the crosote behind the damper and smoke shelf area, in elbows or “T” connections. Special hand held chimney cleaning brushes are available to reach hard-to-clean areas. Clean a wire bristle chimney brush after use and coat with a rust preservative. During the burning season we highly recommend the use of Anti-Creo-Soot or another creosote remover product to reduce the build-up of creosote deposits.