Do it Yourself Chimney Sweeping

How-to Instructions for Chimney Cleaning

By Mark J. Donovan

Cleaning a chimney, or more popularly referred to as chimney sweeping, is one of those home maintenance projects that absolutely needs to be performed regularly if you burn wood. Burning wood, via a fireplace or wood stove causes the buildup of soot and creosote, a black sticky resin substance, in the chimney flue. If the chimney is not swept or cleaned regularly, the soot and creosote can build up constricting the air flow in the chimney. The lack of proper airflow in the chimney can lead to poor wood stove or fireplace heating efficiency.

It is also possible for the soot and creosote in the chimney flue to ignite causing a chimney fire, which could lead to the destruction of your home.

Consequently it is important to regularly clean your chimney if burning wood.

Do it Yourself Chimney Sweeping

Chimney sweeping is a dirty job, and can also be dangerous if you have to climb on high roofs. This said, if you prefer to clean your own chimney described below are the basics for do it yourself chimney sweeping.

First, you need to dress for the occasion. You will need to wear safety glasses, work gloves, a facemask and some old gloves.

Next, close the chimney damper if you are operating a wood stove. If you have a fireplace, seal the front of the fireplace with cardboard and tape. This will prevent soot and creosote from blowing into the house. Also have a large metal pail and fireplace shovel nearby. Finally, keep your vacuum cleaner close at hand.

Next you will need to purchase rope, a wire chimney sweeping brush and several feet of heavy chain.

The chain should be put into a small burlap bag or pillow case and tied off. Connect the small bag of chain to the bottom of the sweeping brush.

Next, tie a long length of rope to the other end of the chimney brush.

Now go up on the roof and remove the chimney cap if there is one installed over the chimney flue. With the chimney cap removed, carefully lower the bag of chain, followed by the steel chimney brush, into the chimney flue.

Using the rope slowly let the chimney brush slide down the chimney liner all the way to the bottom. Carefully pull the chimney brush to the top, and then lower the bag down again. Repeat this process several times until the chimney flue is free from creosote and soot build up.

Stone chimney

After you have completed sweeping the chimney, give the soot some time to settle before going back into the home and removing the cardboard from the fireplace entrance.

Use your fireplace shovel and bucket to collect the debris. Finally vacuum up the area around the fireplace or wood stove area. With that, your chimney is again ready for use.

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For information on how to maximize a wood stove’s heating efficiency, see’s Installation of Hood over Wood Stove eBook

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