There is no doubt that chimney cleaning is an essential task for homeowners who have a working fireplace. Cleaning a chimney can be a daunting task and professional services are often costly. The good news is that this guide will explain how are chimneys cleaned and provide step-by-step instructions on how to clean your chimney yourself. With the right tools and supplies, and following the techniques outlined below, you can safely and efficiently clean your own chimney. So, if you want to learn how to do this job safely and cost effectively, then read on!

Why cleaning a chimney is important to prevent dangerous chimney fires and to make sure the chimney draws the smoke away

Chimney fires are caused by a buildup of soot, caused by burning fuel such as wood and coal, and creosote, the residue left behind after burning those fuels. Soot can can form thick layers of tar-like debris inside the chimney, so it’s important to make sure that you clean the chimney regularly. If left unchecked, soot buildup can cause a chimney fire that could reach high enough temperatures to melt the metal of the chimney. Not only could this cause destructive damage to your home, it could also be extremely dangerous and cause a lot of smoke. A properly maintained and cleaned chimney will help to ensure that it draws the smoke away and keeps your home safe.

How to tell if your chimney needs cleaning

Look for the signs of soot build up. If you run a poker down the side of the chimney liner and find a 3mm or more layer of soot then it is time to sweep your chimney. You can also make a visual inspection of your fireplace and flue by looking up your chimney with a powerful torch to check for signs of build-up, make sure you wear safety google when doing this. Another sign your chimney may need sweeping is when you notice smoke escaping from your chimney into you room, this is a sign of your chimney not drawing well and likely means it needs cleaning.

Get the right chimney cleaning tools

Before attempting to clean your chimney, make sure to get the appropriate tools to do so. You’ll need a metal brush long enough to reach the full length of the chimney, along with a vacuum and some additional brushes, depending on the size and shape of your chimney. Make sure to get a brush specifically made for your type of chimney, and make sure you’re using a professional-grade brush. You can purchase a reasonably priced chimney sweeping set on Amazon that will be suitable for most chimney types and includes an extra noodle hand brush for cleaning the firebox (see below).

Get special brushes for the fire box

A chimney firebox noodle brush is designed to get rid of ash and soot from the corners and crevices of the firebox and can be bent and shaped to reach difficult areas. This is important to make sure that you’re getting rid of all the debris and buildup from the firebox.

Protect against mess coming out of the chimney during cleaning

It’s always a good idea to use a plastic sheet to seal off the firebox when cleaning the chimney to make sure that soot doesn’t get all over your home. You can purchase specially design chimney sweeping plastic sheets from Amazon that can be used to seal of the firebox to prevent mess. You will also want to put dust sheets on the floor around the fireplace to prevent any soot that does escape from messing up your carpets and furniture.

Brush the flue

From the bottom or top of the chimney start cleaning the flue by ramming the cleaning brush up and down several times in a small section of the flue to remove chimney soot. Use a bright flashlight to check your work, continue adding rods and moving down the chimney until there’s no more brush resistance, indicating you have reached the smoke chamber. Climb down from the roof and peel back a small portion of the poly sheeting. Use the long-handled brush to clean the smoke chamber, then the noodle brush to remove soot from the smoke shelf. Switch back to the long-handled brush to clean the sides of the firebox and finish by vacuuming the entire firebox. Soot and creosote from your place can cause havoc with standard vacuum cleaner so you may want to invest in a vacuum more suited to the job. For this you can checkout the reasonably priced Karcher AD 4 Premium Ash Vacuum.

When you are done, fold up the poly sheeting and the dust sheet and move them outside to shake out and reuse when cleaning the fireplace chimney again.

Cleaning your own chimney can be a relatively straightforward process if you have the right tools and knowledge. The steps outlined above can help ensure that your chimney is up to snuff and properly maintained. Keeping your chimney properly cleaned is important to help prevent dangerous chimney fires and make sure the chimney draws the smoke away.

If you would prefer to have your chimney swept by professionals, then simply fill out free estimate form and we will get right back to you.

How are chimneys cleaned? useful resources:

Video showing how to clean your chimney with the bottom to top method: