Chimneys are a very nice addition to any home and most of us dream about having a fireplace in their living room. We imagine ourselves gathering around the fireplace on the cold winter morning and drinking a hot cup of tea, enjoying the view of the snow outside.

The only thing preventing us from enjoying our dream winter morning may be the fact that our chimney needs to be cleared for the best results. Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) says that homeowners who have chimneys should clear them in the late summer or early fall.

Cleaning chimneys will prevent a whole lot of dangers down the way. We are going to talk more about how to clean a chimney further down.

How to clean a chimney – a useful guide

The Importance of Cleaning Your Chimney

The main source of the filth in chimneys is caused by creosote building up and it could clog the whole chimney. Creosote is a byproduct of wood burning. It is sticky, black and very dangerous for your safety. That is why it is important to know how to clean a chimney.

Experts say that improper cleaning of the chimney causes about a quarter of all the house fires. This happens because creosote is extremely flammable and will burn your chimney if not cleared before setting the first fire of the season.

Most people call a chimney sweep to clean their chimneys, check if they are blocked clear out their firebox, smoke chamber and damper. But what people don’t know that if you have the right tools for the job you can do it yourself. This article will help you do it and feel like a pro while doing it.

Right Time to Clean Your Chimney

Before we start talking about how to clean your chimney, let’s talk a little about why does a chimney get dirty in the first place. Smoky fire is your worst enemy since it creates a lot of creosote that builds up on the sides of your chimney.

Creosote burns easily and can set your chimney on fire. One sure way to avoid smoky fire is to have enough combustion air in your fireplace. This will save you a lot of work down the road.

Experts recommend that you do a yearly check-up of your chimney. That means that you need to inspect your chimney, so now is the right time to get you ladders and get on the top of your roof and look down your chimney. You should bring a flashlight with you since chimneys are usually dark, what you need to look for is the creosote build-up on the sides of your chimney.

Chimneys don’t get dirty if you don’t use them so that means that if you clean your chimney at the end of the season it won’t get dirty until next season starts. It is recommended that you clean your chimney at the end of the summer or early fall since the weather conditions will be great and there will be no rain. Now that you know the time to do it it will be easy for you to learn how to clean a chimney and you will not need to hire a chimney sweep.

Experts at CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) say that you should clean your chimney when you notice 1/8″ of sooty buildup in the chimney or flue system. This is what they recommend, but you should know that any buildup in your chimney can cause a fire. So clean your chimneys at least once a year.

The right way to clean your chimney

One thing is for sure there is no price that you can put on your safety when it comes to fireplaces. This means that you will have to invest a few bucks to get the equipment needed to clean your chimney.

Don’t worry any investment that you put into this will quickly pay off since hiring a chimney sweep to do it is expensive.

In the text to come, we will explain how to clean a chimney in detail.

Make sure you have the right tools for the job

Take out your measuring tape and check how big your flue is. This is very important so that you can get the right tool that will help you clean it. Measure the chimney from the bottom and also from the top.

When you know the height of your chimney you must get enough rods so that you can clean your chimney all the way.

You also need to buy a metal bristle brush if you have clay flue or if you have metal liner buy a plastic bristle. All the chimney sweeps have these tools.

You also need some safety equipment while you clean your chimney.

So we advise you to get some good protective eyewear so that no debris falls into your eyes while you scrap the sides of your flue.

Get some specialized equipment to make the whole process easier for you


There are bendable brushes that will help you clean the smoke shelf and there are long-handled brushes to clean the soot off the sides.

Unfortunately, no brush will be the right size for the different parts of your chimney. So you will need to get a few of them.

Keeping it clean

All the debris we talked about and all the filth that has gathered in your chimney will for sure make your whole place messy. So what you need to do is to spread out a plastic tarp or painter’s drop cloth to protect your immediate surroundings. This is an important step in learning how to clean a chimney.

All the debris should fall right into it and you can easily wrap it up and throw the whole thing. This will make it easier for you to clean the place up after.

Next, your clothes will also get dirty so make sure to wear some old clothes or worker suit if you have one. Also if you have long hair wear a bandanna so to prevent the debris from getting stuck in your hair. Also, consider getting workers gloves to keep your hands clean.

The Cleaning Part

First, you need to find damper handle, clean it and take it out so it doesn’t get in the way when you are scrubbing the sides. Once you have done this you need to remove anything from the top of your chimney.

Start from the top of the chimney and let the debris fall down. Use the flashlight while doing this so you can get a good look at the sides and the soot that is on them.

Start using more rods to get further down the chimney, once you stop felling the brush resistance stop and get down to clean the inside of the firebox.

You will also need to get down to the flue’s entrance and clean it, you will need a small spade or shovel for this job.

And finally, you will need to scrub the firebox, but wait for a little for all the debris to settle down. Get a smaller chimney brush and scrub all the way you can.

Are there any safety concerns when cleaning the chimney?

This job is a safe project as long as you take good care and get good equipment. It is important to protect yourself as best as you can from any sort of falling debris.

An important step to mention although it may be obvious, put out any fire around the chimney, as debris could catch on fire and create house-fire.

In some cases, people get skin irritation from physical contact with creosote. In case you don’t have any safety goggles you risk getting an eye injury.

Get some dust mask or full-face mask so that you protect yourself from all the debris that will create a lot of dust in the air around you.

We hope that this article taught you how to clean a chimney.

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