Fire Recovery Realities

Top 5 Chimney Cleaning Tips

by Matthew Fields

Chimney cleaning is absolutely essential to maintain the safety of fireplaces and homes. Creosote is a sticky, tar-like substance that adheres to the chimney whenever the fireplace is used. If creosote is not removed regularly, it will create a fire hazard. If your chimney needs to be cleaned, you may be thinking about doing the job yourself. Here are five chimney cleaning tips:

1. Determine if your chimney needs to be cleaned.

First, you need to determine if your chimney needs cleaning and how much cleaning your chimney needs. Take a plastic knife or trowel and scrape the soot or creosote from the inside of the chimney. Use a flashlight to determine how thick the buildup is. If it's more than an 1/8 of an inch, your chimney needs to be cleaned. Also, if you have less soot, but you notice a shiny glaze, your chimney needs to be cleaned by professionals. This glaze means the creosote hardened and will be much more difficult to remove yourself.

2. Get the right tools.

To clean your chimney, you will need the right tools for the job. Before buying the tools, you need to measure the diameter of your chimney to ensure you buy the right sized brush. The brush should be able to fit into the diameter of your chimney without being too small or too big. Once you've measured the chimney, you are ready to get your supplies. Here are the supplies you need:

  • Chimney brush
  • Extendable rod
  • Ladder
  • Plastic sheets or drop cloths
  • Goggles
  • Face mask
  • Thick gloves

3. Protect your living room and yourself.

Before you begin cleaning, close the doors to your fireplace. Place the drop cloths or plastic sheets around the area in front of the fireplace. Move your furniture away from the fireplace or into another room entirely. Soot can embed into furniture and carpet and stain the walls and floor. Soot can also get into your eyes, nose, and mouth. It is essential that you wear goggles and a face mask while cleaning. Soot particles have been linked to lung cancer.

4. Make sure all creosote is knocked loose.

From your roof, swirl the brush down to the bottom of the chimney, and swirl the opposite direction as you pull the brush back up. Inspect the brush for creosote. Repeat this entire process until the brush no longer has creosote in the bristles. Carefully get down off the roof and inspect the chimney from your fireplace. Look for any more soot. Use a brush to sweep the loose soot off the sides of the chimney and fireplace. Sweep or vacuum all the soot from your fireplace and chimney walls.

5. Use chimney cleaning logs.

If you have less than an 1/8 of an inch of soot, you should burn a chimney cleaning log to maintain your fireplace. This is also a great, simple way to maintain your fireplace and chimney after a chimney cleaning.

With these five tips, your chimney will be clean and your fireplace safe to use this winter. If the job is too big for you, you can always call in a professional, like those at AAAA Dave's Chimney Service.