All chimneys must be cleaned at least once per year. Chimney cleaning is a process that takes a lot of time and should be handled with care. To know whether your chimney is due for a cleanup, use a flashlight and peer inside the chimney flute when the stove is cool. You can also use a mirror to see inside the chimney instead of sticking your head into the stove. Alternatively, you can take a knife or pencil and scrape off some creosote from the chimney. If the creosote is 1/8 inches thick, the stove is due to be cleaned. Here is how to clean a wood burning stove chimney the six steps.
1. Check For Presence Of Animals In The Chimney
Wood stoves can be fitted in masonry or fabricated chimneys. These stoves are habitable, and animals such as squirrels, birds and raccoons tend to build their nests here. Always check to see if there is a nest in the chimney. If so, remove the nest before starting the cleaning process.
2. Measure The Chimney Flue
It is important that you measure the chimney flue to best determine the appropriate cleaning equipment. Taking the measurements from the bottom can be a bit challenging, so we recommend measuring from the top. Measure the sides and also determine the shape. In most cases, the chimney will measure between 6” and 8”. Do not forget to measure the height, as well. If that is not possible, estimate the height based the height of your house. It is advisable that you overestimate the height, which will allow you to have extra piping or rope to clean the entire length easily.
3. Get The Right Cleaning Tools
- A chimney brush with strong bristles, preferably a wire brush
- Chimney brush extension ropes/pipes. The rope should be long and heavy for efficient cleaning
- A smaller wire brush
- Dust mask and goggles
- A dustpan and a broom
- A ladder
- A fireplace cover
- A good flashlight
4. Cleaning Using The Up-Down Method
All wood stove chimneys are different. While some allow you to clean through the fireplace, some can only be cleaned from the top. This means that you have to climb on the rooftop to clean the chimney, a method known as the up-down cleaning method. With this method, the first step would be to remove the wind cap. Some are held in place by screws, while others are heavy enough to be secured by their weight. Remove the wind cap and clean it first. If possible, lower it to the ground to avoid accidents. Ensure it is devoid of any soot and creosote, as it also comes into contact with smoke.
The first step to clean the chimney is to close off the fireplace. This is done by removing the damper and securing the fireplace cover. A plywood sheet may also be used to cover the fireplace. This avoids spreading debris in the room. Get back to the rooftop and start cleaning by removing the flue cowl, if your chimney has one. Then, lower the chimney brush. Do not lower it to the bottom immediately; instead, clean step by step from the top downwards. If you are using pipes to secure your brush, it is advisable that you go for detachable pipes, which make it easier to handle the brush. Attach more pipes as the brush descends into the chimney.Once the brush reaches the bottom of your chimney, use the flashlight to see if it is well cleaned. If so, your work here is done. Remove the brush and replace the cowl and the wind cap. The final step is clearing the fireplace of the debris.
5. Cleaning Using The Bottom-Up Method
This is another chimney cleaning method that is popular among people who are afraid of heights. It is considered to be safer than climbing on rooftops, but you need to be ready to leave a complete mess. Therefore, evacuate anything that can be damaged by the soot before starting the cleaning process.This method can only be completed using a pipe. Ropes cannot be used to hold the chimney brush.
First and foremost, open the damper. This will allow you to push the brush upwards with ease. Keep adding detachable pipes until the brush reaches the chimney top. Rub the brush on the chimney surfaces to remove all the creosote. If there is little soot coming down, the cleaning process may be complete. Shine the flashlight up the chimney just to be sure that no spots have been left out. Finally, clean up the fireplace, as well as the room
6. Dispose The Soot And Creosote
The cleaning process can never be complete if soot is still in your home. It is important to note that the creosote removed from the chimney is flammable, and therefore cannot be thrown in the trash. Dispose of it according to the local laws and regulations. If you have a flower bed, you can sprinkle the ashes and creosote on the flower bed. The ashes and creosote are known to be a great source of calcium and other nutrients and will be of great benefit to your plants. You only need to ensure that you are not lighting a fire near the fireplace. This can result in fires that can even bring down your property. Always ensure high safety standards when handling creosote.