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Do-It-Yourself Chimney Sweep

a chimney sweeping brush is shown coming up through the chimney

Many homeowners decide to sweep their own chimneys. This is perfectly acceptable with the right tools and knowledge. You will need to understand which tools are right for your appliance, the proper sweeping procedure, and why you need a chimney inspection annually. Sweeping your own chimney can save you money and helps ensure a safe chimney system.

Maintenance Procedures

For solid fuel burning appliances, more frequent maintenance may be required, depending on use. The entire system, from the connection at the appliance to the top of the chimney flue must be completely inspected and cleaned. The following steps are recommended to properly clean the chimney lining system.

Step-By-Step Chimney Sweep Instructions

Start by determining which chimney brush is best for your application. For a traditional masonry chimney with a clay flue, it is best to use a heavy duty wire brush. For a stainless steel flexible or rigid chimney liner, it is best to use a polypropylene bristle brush. Most warranties for stainless steel chimney liners are voided when a wire brush is used. Make sure to have enough chimney cleaning rods to go the entire length of the flue. Chimney rods are sold in various sizes to provide you with enough length to get you through the chimney.

Here are step-by-step instructions to properly clean and sweep your chimney.

  1. Remove the chimney rain cap

  2. Select the proper size nylon, poly or natural bristle chimney brush to clean the liner. Be sure the brush head passes throughout the complete length of the liner, including the connectors, terminals and tees. We supply chimney brushes and rods if you don't already have them.

    Note: When a tee connection inside the chimney is used in conjunction with a flexible or rigid chimney liner, make sure to check and clean the tee connection once every two weeks to prevent any blockage or hazards.

  3. Connect the chimney cleaning brush to the end of the cleaning rod.

  4. Insert the brush down the flue from the top of the chimney.

  5. Guide the chimney brush up and down the flue.

  6. Add more chimney cleaning rods to extend further down the chimney.

  7. In some instances, proper cleaning will require removing the appliance connectors to clean them of any creosote buildup (such as the tee connector cap). For traditional fireplaces, scrape off the smoke shelf and make sure the walls and the entire fireplace are clean.

  8. After sweeping, use a shovel to remove the ash and creosote that has fallen from the flue.

  9. Congratulations, you have successfully swept your chimney!

For stubborn and thick creosote buildup, there are various chemical treatments that can be used while having a small fire to break down the glaze creosote. Anti Creo-Soot and Chimney Saver Cre-Away are two of the most popular creosote treatments. Each product has specific instructions for use. Do not rely solely on the chemicals to clean the chimney. These chemicals should only be used when thick and glaze creosote has formed.

An annual inspection should happen at least once a year to make sure the chimney flue does not have any cracks or missing mortar joints in the flue. Check for any blockage when using a stainless steel chimney liner. It is important to make sure when heating the house that it is done in a safe and efficient manner to protect family members and the home. For more information on why your chimney needs sweeping, please visit “Why Do I Need To Sweep My Chimney?”.

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