Over time the chimney lining will develop a buildup of creosote, a byproduct of wood burning in your fireplace. Creosote is flammable and poses a fire risk. The material should be removed to protect your family and keep your home safe. Here are four steps you’ll take to clean your chimney.
Clean Your Chimney: Perform a Thorough Inspection
One of the first things to do before cleaning the chimney is to perform an inspection. Wearing goggles and a respirator, clean the ashes from the firebox.
Open a window or door to equalize the pressure before you open the damper. Using a flashlight and fireplace poker, look into the smoke chamber and scratch the surface with a poker.
If the scratch is 1/8 deep or less, you can clean the chimney on your own. However, if the buildup is deeper, with a tar-like appearance, there is significant creosote accumulation. In this case, call a professional chimney sweep service.
Get the Right Supplies to Clean the Chimney
When tackling chimney maintenance, make sure you have the necessary supplies. Measure the diameter of your flue liner to purchase the correct size brush. Make sure the brush is ½ inch larger than the diameter of the chimney. A brush that is too large will be difficult to use, while a too small brush is ineffective for thorough cleaning.
Connect the brush to extension rods to clean the entire area. Measure the height of the chimney to make sure you have enough rods. Other cleaning supplies include a broom, plastic sheeting, a dustpan, a stiff wire brush, and a ladder.
Seal the Fireplace During Chimney Cleaning
Open the fireplace damper and cut off a section of the plastic. Tape it on the floor in front of the fireplace. Cut another sheet of plastic and tape it over the fireplace opening to prevent debris from falling out.
Remove old firewood, the grate, and other accessories to access the firebox easily.
Clean the Flue
Using a tall, stable ladder, remove the chimney cap and insert the brush down the chimney. Depending on the location of your chimney, you may need to clean it from the roof.
Use the brush to clean the flue. Attach more rods to the brush to clean further down the flue. After cleaning, remove the brush and reattach the chimney cap.
Chimney cleaning is necessary to remove creosote. When enjoying a fire, properly split firewood and ensure the room has sufficient ventilation. Schedule a chimney inspection by a professional at least once a year. They will check for creosote, structural problems, and blockages and recommend repairs when needed.