Few things equal a fireplace’s cozy, natural warmth when temperatures start falling. Regular chimney maintenance is a must to benefit your fireplace most. Hire a professional to inspect and clean the flue. However, if you prefer the DIY route, here are a few helpful tips for cleaning the chimney.
Clean the Chimney Regularly
The reason chimney cleaning is necessary can be summarized in one word: creosote. This flammable material will accumulate on the chimney walls and become a dangerous fire hazard.
According to professionals, creosote build-up causes nearly 25% of house fires in the US.
Supplies for Cleaning the Chimney
Purchase brushes to clean your chimney at your local fireplace dealer or hardware store. Check whether the flue liner is made of metal or clay because this will determine what type of bristles you need.
For clay liners, use metal bristles, and for metal liners, use plastic bristles. You also need extension rods for your brush to reach every part of the chimney.
Use a Bright Flashlight for Cleaning the Chimney
Top-quality brushes won’t help if you can’t see what you are doing. Make sure you have a bright flashlight to see the top of the chimney. Take a good look at the soot. If it has a tarry consistency, it’s most likely creosote.
To prevent soot from escaping the chimney, carefully tape plastic sheeting over the fireplace. To protect the floor near the fireplace, spread out a painter’s drop cloth or plastic tarp.
Protective Gear is Necessary for Cleaning the Chimney
To protect your eyes, purchase safety goggles. Wear coveralls to protect your clothing, gloves, and a dust mask.
You’ll need a sturdy ladder to access the roof and chimney. Have a friend or family member stabilize the ladder while you work.
Steps to Clean a Chimney
Start by removing all the remaining wood, ash, and debris from the firebox. Then open the damper.
Next, remove obstructions such as animal guards or chimney caps from the top of the chimney. Start brushing from the top down, using the biggest chimney brush. Gradually work down the flue toward the smoke shelf (behind the damper).
Allow time for the dust falling into the firebox to settle. Then carefully make a small opening in the plastic sheeting you taped over the fireplace. Use a small brush to clean as far into the chimney as possible. When finished, seal the fireplace again and allow time for the remaining ashes and dust to settle.
The final step is to remove the plastic sheeting slowly to avoid stirring up soot. Use a shop vac to vacuum the soot and ash from the firebox.
Before cold weather arrives, clean the chimney. If you don’t have the tools and time for the project, hire a professional. Your fireplace will be safer, and you’ll enjoy warm fires all winter.