Chimneys need cleaned—that’s a fact. The chimney’s role in keeping your home toxin-free is essential as it channels out combustion byproducts produced by a fire. Over time, however, these toxins create a buildup of a byproduct known as creosote. Creosote condenses inside of the chimney, which can lead to safety concerns like a chimney fire. Both wood stoves and fireplaces are in danger of producing chimney fires when this creosote buildup occurs, making a regular chimney cleaning all the more crucial.
Cleaning a Chimney That Bends
So you’re ready to clean your chimney, but is the task going to be difficult? What if your chimney has a bend, does that make the job impossible? Fortunately, you’re not the only homeowner whose faced with cleaning a chimney with a bend—there’s a solution for that! Your first tool you’ll need is a metal bristle brush that’s designed to clean a clay flue liner or a brush with plastic bristles if your liner is made of metal. You’ll need to purchase enough rods for the brush to clean the length of your chimney, so make sure you have the height measured beforehand. For chimneys that bend, buy a bendable brush (referred to as “noodle brushes”), so you can reach around the turn of the chimney. The noodle brushes will also be needed to clean the smoke shelf. You’ll also need a long-handled brush to clean soot around the sides of the firebox. All of these different brushes can be found at your local home improvement store or purchased online.
How to Clean Your Chimney
Prepare your work area by covering the living space with the fireplace in it with plastic tarping. If you can, use a shop vacuum to help minimize the soot and debris by leaving the shop vacuum outside, running the hose indoors in case the filters aren’t able to entrap the finer soot and it escapes through the exhaust port. Close all the doors and windows to prevent the soot from reentering the house. Use one of your cleaning brushes to tackle a small section of the flue, removing the chimney soot. A flashlight can be helpful to check your work before you move onto another section. When working from the top of the chimney, remove the cap and use your flashlight to look for the black substance that needs to be cleaned off—that’s the creosote. As you carefully clean the chimney from the top of your roof, add rods to your flexible brush, moving it down the length of the chimney until there isn’t any more brush resistance. This means you’ve reached the smoke chamber, so you’ll need to head back down and work inside the firebox. Alternate between brushes and finish by cleaning off the smoke shelf, vacuuming up the debris and the entire firebox.
When to Call a Professional
You can clean your chimney yourself, but it stops being a DIY job when your brushes aren’t able to clean certain areas or your flashlight spots damage inside the chimney. Chimneys that bend can be trickier to clean, but if you have a flexible brush, it should go smoothly. When it doesn’t, you’ll need to call a professional chimney sweep because you don’t want creosote buildup to remain, otherwise there could be a chimney fire. The benefits of hiring a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney are that they’re trained to spot any damage, perform a proper inspection, and conduct a thorough cleaning—one that you might not be able to do on your own. You can also skip having to purchase all of the brushes required to clean a chimney and the specialized ones that clean chimneys with a bend. If there is damage within your chimney, a professional chimney sweep will conduct a Level 2 inspection and analyze what needs to be done for repairs.
How to Keep Your Chimney Clean
While it won’t stay perfectly clean all season long if you’re burning fires in the fireplace, there are some things you can do to help prevent the buildup of creosote in between the time of your last cleaning and the next one.
The Right Wood
The wood you choose to burn can have a positive effect on the functionality of your chimney. Selecting dry, well-seasoned wood will minimize creosote production because there are fewer combustion byproducts as it burns. Greener wood that hasn’t been seasoned will burn at a cooler temperature. This ultimately produces more combustion byproducts with a colder smoke that has a higher chance of condensing inside the flue.
Schedule a Chimney Cleaning
Whether you do the cleaning yourself or call a professional to do the job for you, it’s of the upmost importance to regularly have your chimney cleaned. Creosote buildup can cause chimney fires and that’s certainly not something you want to mess with because the consequences can be extremely expensive or deadly. When it comes to chimney cleaning and sweeping, the #1 company in Chicago and Suburbs is Vertical Chimney Care. We have helped thousands of homeowners with cleaning out the flue of the chimney and removing the creosote. In return, many homeowners have recommended our services to their friends and family. Contact us to speak to a specialist today.