If you plan to use your wood stove or fireplace more than once this winter, be sure to have it professionally cleaned soon. Regular maintenance helps avoid the buildup of creosote – a flammable substance that poses a health risk – which could develop over time.
When it comes to cleaning your chimney yourself, there are a few different methods available. Each has advantages and drawbacks, so select the one best suited to your requirements.
Climb a Ladder to the Roof
A ladder is essential when cleaning a chimney, but it must be placed correctly to avoid falling, injuring, or damaging your roof.
Before positioning your ladder correctly, inspect the roof and chimney for cracks or missing bricks. Doing so could make it unsafe to lean against them while climbing.
In windy conditions, climbing a ladder against the roof isn’t recommended because it tends to move around and throw you off balance.
Use a Brush
Cleaning your chimney is the best way to prevent soot and creosote buildup, which could slow down wood-burning fires. For optimal performance, it should be done at least once annually.
Scrubbing your chimney walls with a brush is safe and straightforward, though it may leave some mess behind.
On the roof, one person holds one end of a rope (and pull ring if desired) attached to a chimney brush and lowers it down the chimney into the fireplace; another person uses this lowered rope and works it up and down to scrub away any accumulated grime on the flue walls.
Use a Shop Vacuum
Cleaning the chimney of your fireplace or stove is necessary for safety and efficiency. Removing built-up ash helps the wood burn more efficiently, improves air intake, and reduces odors and allergens from smoke and burning wood fibers that may be incredibly unpleasant to some people.
Shop vacuums are specifically designed to clean wood ash. These vacuums can handle higher temperatures and filter out fine particles and dust in wood ash, unlike regular vacuums.
A shop vacuum has a metal construction that can withstand the heat from hot ashes it encounters, making it a safer choice than using your house vacuum to clean fireplace or stove surfaces.
Use a Poker
Cleaning a chimney with a poker is possible. This metal rod with an angled end can hook, rake and push logs with its handle that protects you from getting burned.
Chimney cleaning is essential to remove soot and creosote accumulating over time, leading to unhealthy indoor air quality and carbon monoxide poisoning if left in your house.
Having all the necessary tools and equipment is essential to clean a chimney properly. Safety goggles, a dust mask, and a flashlight are mandatory.
Check for Creosote Buildup
If you notice black soot or tar deposits around your chimney’s opening, this could indicate creosote buildup. You can also shine a flashlight up the chimney to search for additional signs of creosote buildup.
Creosote buildup is often caused by incomplete combustion, which occurs when a fire struggles due to a lack of air supply or wet wood being burned.
Smoke from your fire then rises the flue and carries unburnt material with it, which can condense and form creosote on the inner walls of your chimney in cold temperatures.