Chimneys are a very nice addition to any home and most of us dream of having a fireplace in your living room. We introduce ourselves, we gather on the cold winter morning by the fireplace, drink a hot cup of tea and enjoy the view of the snow outside.
The only thing stopping us from enjoying our dreamy winter morning may be the fact that our chimney needs to be cleared to get the best results. Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) says that homeowners who have chimneys should clear them in late summer or early fall.
Cleaning chimneys prevents a lot of dangers on the way. We’ll talk below about how to clean a chimney.
How to clean a chimney – a useful guide
The importance of cleaning your chimney
The main source of dirt in the chimneys is the formation of creosote, which can clog the entire chimney. Creosote is a by-product of wood burning. It is sticky, black and very dangerous for your safety. It is therefore important to know how to clean a chimney.
Experts say that improper cleaning of the chimney causes around a quarter of all house fires. This happens because creosote is extremely flammable and will burn your chimney if it is not extinguished before the first fire of the season is lit.
Most people call a chimney sweep to clean their chimneys. Check if they are blocked and clear the firebox, smoke chamber and hatch. But what people don’t know, if you have the right tools for the job, you can do it yourself. This article will help you and feel like a professional.
The right time to clean your chimney
Before we talk about how to clean your chimney, let’s talk a little bit about why a chimney gets dirty in the first place. Smoky fire is your worst enemy as it creates a lot of creosote that accumulates on the sides of your chimney.
Creosote burns easily and can set your chimney on fire. A safe way to avoid smoky fire is to have enough combustion air in your fireplace. This will save you a lot of work later.
Experts recommend that you check your chimney annually. This means that you have to inspect your chimney. Now is the time to get your ladders, climb your roof and look at your chimney. You should bring a flashlight as the chimneys are usually dark. Pay attention to the creosote accumulation on the sides of your chimney.
Chimneys don’t get dirty if you don’t use them. If you clean your chimney at the end of the season, it won’t get dirty until the beginning of the next season. It is recommended to clean the chimney at the end of summer or early autumn as the weather conditions are good and it does not rain. Now that you know the time for it, you can easily learn how to clean a chimney and you no longer have to rent a chimney sweep.
Experts from the CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) say that you should clean your chimney if you find 1/8 inch soot accumulates in the chimney or flue system. This is what they recommend, but you should know that any buildup in your chimney can cause a fire. So clean your chimneys at least once a year.
The right way to clean your chimney
One thing is certain, there is no price you can set for your safety in relation to fireplaces. This means that you have to invest a few dollars to get the equipment to clean your chimney.
Don’t worry that an investment you invest in this project will pay off quickly as it is expensive to rent a chimney sweep.
In the following text we explain in detail how to clean a chimney.
Make sure you have the right tools for the job
Take out your tape measure and check how big your fireplace is. This is very important so that you get the right tool to clean it with. Measure the chimney from below and also from above.
If you know the height of your chimney, you need to have enough rods so that you can clean your chimney completely.
You also need to buy a metal bristle brush, if you have a clay print, or if you have a metal liner, buy a plastic bristle. All chimney sweeps have these tools.
You will also need safety equipment while cleaning your chimney.
We therefore recommend that you buy good safety glasses so that no residue falls into your eyes while you scrape the sides of your trigger.
Get special equipment that will make the whole process easier for you
There are flexible brushes that can be used to clean the smoke shelf and long-handled brushes that can be used to remove the soot from the sides.
Unfortunately, no brush is the right size for the different parts of your chimney. So you have to get some of them.
Keep it clean
All the debris we’ve been talking about and all the dirt that has accumulated in your chimney will surely make your whole place messy. So you have to spread out a plastic tarp or a painting cloth to protect your immediate surroundings. This is an important step to learn how to clean a chimney.
All debris should fall straight in and you can easily wrap it up and throw the whole thing. This makes it easier for you to tidy up the space afterwards.
Next, your clothes will get dirty too. Be sure to wear old clothes or a work suit if you have one. Even if you have long hair, wear a headscarf so that the foreign bodies do not get stuck in your hair. Also consider using worker gloves to keep your hands clean.
The cleaning part
First, you need to find, clean, and remove the damper handle so that it doesn’t get in the way when scrubbing the sides. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to remove everything from the top of your chimney.
Start at the top of the chimney and let the debris fall down. Use the flashlight so you can get a good view of the sides and the soot on them.
Use more poles to get further into the chimney. Once you stop cutting the brush resistor, stop and go down to clean the inside of the firebox.
You also need to go to the entrance of the fume cupboard and clean it. For this job you need a small spade or a shovel.
And finally you have to scrub the firebox, but wait a little bit for all of the rubble to settle. Get a smaller chimney brush and scrub everything you can.
Are there any safety concerns when cleaning the fireplace?
This job is a safe project as long as you take care and get good equipment. It is important to protect yourself as much as possible from falling foreign objects.
An important step to mention, although it may be obvious, is to put out any fire around the chimney as dirt can accumulate and cause house fire.
In some cases, people experience skin irritation from physical contact with creosote. If you do not have safety glasses, there is a risk of eye injury.
Get a dust mask or full face mask to protect yourself from any debris that creates a lot of dust in the air around you.
We hope you learned how to clean a chimney in this article.
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