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Chimney Maintenance 101

Chimney Maintenance 101

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October 2, 2007

If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, you need to learn how to clean a chimney.  When you burn wood, creosote builds up on the inside of the chimney.  If it's allowed to get too thick it can block the smooth flow of smoke and ash.  Too much creosote in a chimney can also catch fire which creates a very dangerous situation.

It's easy to forget to clean the chimney regularly until a problem occurs like a chimney fire or the flue doesn't shut properly.  Unfortunately, a chimney fire has been known to result in house fires in the worst case scenario.  In the best case situation, a chimney fire can result in the chimney cracking from the high heat.  That's why you should make it a habit to check your chimney at least once a year.

How to Clean a Chimney

Anyone can learn how to clean a chimney. It can be a dirty job and requires being able to climb onto the roof, and that's why many people choose to hire a chimney sweep.  But if you want to save money, there's no reason why you can't do it yourself as long as you are able to safely handle climbing on the roof with brushes in hand.

There are certain steps to follow when you learn how to clean a chimney-  First, open the damper which is like a little door in the chimney.  When there's no fire in the fireplace, closing the damper prevents air loss, but for cleaning you want it open.  Now you have to get on the roof, taking your chimney cleaning brushes with you.  While on the roof, you can check the chimney cap and make sure it's intact.

Chimney brushes are long handled brushes with wires on the end.  When you run the brush down the chimney in a twisting motion, it breaks up the creosote which then falls to the bottom of the chimney.  You have to push the chimney brush up and down the length of the chimney a number of times.   After you clean the chimney, the next steps are to clean the flue and remove the creosote you broke off the inside of the chimney.

You should clean a chimney at least once a year, especially if you use the fireplace regularly.  Metal chimneys are cleaned in similar manner, but some homeowners actually disassemble the chimney and clean each segment. 

It's easy to learn the steps for how to clean a chimney, but if you decide to do it yourself, make sure you're physically capable.  The last thing you want to do is injure yourself trying to clean your chimney.   After you clean the chimney and flue, don't forget to clean the walls and ceiling of the fireplace itself.

For more information on how to clean a chimney

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