A Helpful Guide to Cleaning a Chimney the Right Way

cleaning a chimney

Did you know that people who don’t regularly clean their chimneys increase the likelihood that their chimneys create dangerous fires?

If you enjoy cuddling up with your family around orange glowing embers on cold winter nights, there is nothing like having a wood-burning fireplace. But many people don’t understand how important it is to keep their chimneys clean.

We’ve written a guide that explains everything you need to know about cleaning a chimney. Keep reading if you are interested in learning more.

Why Do Chimneys Get Dirty?

Wood does not burn cleanly. It releases various kinds of contaminants that stick to the insides of chimneys. Many of these contaminants are flammable.

It is also possible that birds and other types of rodents will enter your chimney and leave organic materials behind.

But the real issue with dirty chimneys is that they tend to build up lots of creosote. Creosote is highly flammable, and it can be difficult to get rid of.

What Is Creosote?

Creosote is a thick, black compound that is a contaminant byproduct of fires that burn wood. When you start fires in your fireplace, they create smoke, water vapor, wood particles, and other types of gases.

These particles create a residue that sticks onto the insides of chimneys. There are three stages of creosote: ash, flaky, and glazed. Once an eighth of an inch or more of creosote builds up, it must be removed.

Why It Is Important to Clean Your Chimney

If you don’t clean your chimney on a regular basis, it will become more difficult to burn wood. It will also be more challenging to start fires.

If you are able to start fires in a dirty fireplace, they won’t burn with as much vigor as they used to.

If your chimney is blocked, smoke that should exit through your chimney might also enter your home. This means that you will have very poor home air quality.

But the most important reason why you should keep your chimney clean is to prevent chimney fires. When a chimney fire begins, you will hear snaps and pops that sound like gunshots.

Dark and thick creosote will then begin raining down from your firebox.

How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Chimney?

You should make sure to clean your chimney at least once per year. Make sure that you do this no later than early fall before it gets cold enough to start using your fireplace to keep your house warm.

If you have a self-cleaning chimney, you should aim to clean it in the late summer. This is because it is important to have dry and mild conditions in order to climb your roof and do the job.

You should also consider cleaning your chimney if you notice that soot and creosote are falling from your firebox when you start fires.

If you burn unseasoned or green firewood, you will probably need to clean your chimney more often.

Keep in mind that you won’t need to clean your chimney as often if you choose to install an electric fireplace.

Chimney Cleaning: The Most Important Steps

To get started with chimney cleaning, you will need to seal up the fireplace. You can do this by cutting off a large section of sheet plastic. It should be at least six feet long and four feet wide.

Use painter’s tape to hold it to the floor in front of your fireplace.

Cut another piece of sheet plastic that is slightly larger that the previous piece and tape it over the fireplace.

You will then need to climb to the roof. Remove the chimney caps by using a cordless drill.

Next, connect a chimney sweeping brush to an extension rod. Then use your chimney sweeping brush to scrub the chimney. Start at the top and work your way downwards until you reach the smoke shelf.

While you are pulling the chimney brush upwards to remove it from the chimney, continue lightly scrubbing the chimney.

Once you’ve removed the chimney brush, you should inspect the chimney by shining a flashlight into it. If there are any spots that you missed, use the chimney brush to scrub these areas.

You’ll then need to go downstairs. After the dust has settled, peel away the plastic covering and fold it up so that the dust stays inside. You can get rid of the remaining debris by using a shop vacuum.

How to Keep Your Chimney Clean for Longer

There are several simple things you can do to prevent your chimney from getting dirty.

For starters, make sure that you only burn clean wood inside of your fireplace. Hardwoods tend to burn more cleanly than softwoods.

You should also be mindful of fireplace ash. You should try to leave behind about an inch of ash after you make a fire in your fireplace. This will make it easier to build and start future fires.

There are also several commercial products that you can squirt into your chimney to prevent creosote from accumulating.

Cleaning a Chimney Is Easier Than You Might Think

Cleaning a chimney is much easier than most people think. After taping a plastic sheet in front of your fireplace, you will need to climb to your roof and use a chimney brush to scrub your chimney.

If your home does not yet have a fireplace and if you want to get one installed, Dreifuss Fireplaces can help you.

We sell various types of traditional and modern fireplaces. Don’t hesitate to contact us once you are ready to get started. 

Latest Articles