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What are The Best Ways to Clean My Chimney?

Fireboxes play a critical role in keeping us warm during the biting cold temperatures of winter.

As wood burns in your firebox, smoke escapes to the exterior of your house through the chimney and is finally diffused into the atmosphere.

However, as this happens, smoke leaves deposits of particles that settle on the flue of the chimney.

Over time, those particles become soot and creosote, which manifests as black debris found on the inner walls of the chimney. 

Over accumulation of smoke particles leads to the formation of soot and creosote, both of which can cause a fire hazard.

Does your chimney need a cleaning?

When you want to light a fire again in the next cold season, these may catch fire, which can quickly spread throughout the home. Since you do not want to experience such issues, it makes sense to have the chimney cleaned regularly. This article gives details on how to go about this. 

Assess the Chimney

If you are reading this and considering cleaning your chimney, the first thing you should do is conduct a thorough inspection of the chimney. This is because the amount of creosote and soot determines if the chimney needs to be cleaned or not. A buildup of 1/8 inch and above is a clear go-ahead for cleaning while less than that means it is not time yet. Using a tape measure, determine the height of your chimney as this will determine the height of the brush rod you will need in the process. The inspection will also give you an insight into the conditions inside there and whether there are damages and animals inhabiting this section. If there are animals, consider hiring extermination services to avoid being on the wrong side of animal welfare laws. 

Arm Yourself with Equipment and Safety Gear

Having determined it is time to clean the area, go to the supplies store and buy safety gear like an extendable ladder, a pair of gloves, goggles and a respirator. Then buy tools like a small wire brush, chimney brush, drop plastic cloth, and a dustpan. 

Prep the Area around the Chimney

Using tape, secure the plastic paper all over the fireplace and ensure it extends a few feet, say 4 feet from the firebox. Make a small circular hole at the base of the firebox, insert the vacuum wand, and seal the hole tightly using tape. Then extend the vacuum hose to the exterior of your house. The plastic cloth ensures dust, soot, and creosote do not find their way into your living space while the vacuum captures the dust floating in the firebox. 

Work Top Bottom

Use the ladder to access the top of your roof and be sure to set it on an even ground to avoid falls. Open the chimney cover by loosening the small screws. Take the brush cleaner and connect it to the rods as directed by the manufacturer until it matches the height of your chimney. As you do this, the vacuum you connected to the firebox should be running, to capture as much dust as possible. 

Scrub the Flue

With the chimney brush now securely hanging on the rods in the flue, scrub the walls from bottom to top. Start the scrubbing gently to avoid ablating some loose or damaged sections. You can still work your way top-bottom but experts advise the bottom-top method. When satisfied the flue is clear of all debris, climb down the ladder. 

Remove Debris

Wait for about 30 minutes to allow the dust to settle before removing the drop cloth from the firebox. Then carefully remove the damper and use the small wire brush to clean it in your hands. Scrub the walls of the firebox using the wire brush and scoop all the debris using a dustpan while emptying it into a waste bucket. Then run the vacuum to get rid of all dust even the one stuck in crevices and grout. Be sure to run the vacuum in medium or low modes to avoid ablating the grout or any loose bricks. 

Inspect and Finish Up

Inspect the chimney and firebox for any unremoved debris. If any, you can repeat the above process. Discard the collected debris in accordance with the local laws and not the usual waste management process. 

A clean chimney provides your family with quality indoor air while keeping you safe from home fires. Should you feel uncomfortable with any step of the two ways, or when the soot and creosote are too much, do not hesitate to call in a professional.  

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