Chimney Brush & Rods Cleaning Basics - About Cleaning the Chimney

Chimney Brush & Rods Cleaning Basics - About Cleaning the Chimney

A chimney brush or rotary cleaning brush is a tool that is used to clean the chimney flue, a task that can be accomplished by the do-it-yourselfer. Cleaning the inside of your chimney will help prevent fires and harmful fumes from coming into your home. It is recommended that you clean your chimney at the end of the heating season, or before making the first fire of the season.

While a chimney brush may seem like a simple thing, there are a variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Today's modern brushes are far more advanced than those in the past; no more one size or type fits all. Your chimney brush must be correct for your application.

Consider chimney type:

Choosing the right chimney brush is a matter of knowing the kind of chimney that you have. Unlined chimneys or chimneys with stainless steel liners will require flexible brushes that are made from nylon or polypropylene (poly.) Brick and mortar chimneys that are clay lined will need a stiffer brush, or even a wire brush.

Consider chimney shape and size:

Choosing the correct size and shape of a chimney brush is important in order to clean all sides of the chimney. The brush shape should match the cross section of your chimney flue. The most common shape is circular, but you can also find rectangular, square or oval brushes. Some brushes can be custom made, or a round brush can be trimmed to shape.

Measure the inside of your chimney and match that size to a brush designed for your flue. The brush should be 1/2" – 1 inch larger than the flue. An oversize brush will not improve cleaning and could become lodged in the chimney. An undersized brush will not provide the pressure on the walls for proper cleaning.

Remember the rods:

No matter which brush you choose, you should also purchase brush rods that will help you clean the chimney. Rods are 5' long, and depending on the material, they can be either stiff or flexible. Examine your chimney and decide which type of rod will work best.

The brush rod has a connector on each end for attachment of the brush and additional rods. Chimney rods can be "daisy chained" together for additional length. Use as many rods as you need to accommodate the length of your chimney.

Chimney cleaning procedure:

The aim in cleaning chimneys is to make sure you contact all the side walls at the same time, so that all vertical surfaces are cleared of debris, animal nests and any creosote material.

Important: Before doing any work on your roof, think safety first. Watch out for overhead power lines; make sure your ladder is sound and steady, the roof is dry and you can work without slipping. It's a good idea to have someone assist you. You might consider using a harness or rooftop safety system.

The preferred way to clean a chimney with a chimney brush is to lower the brush down the chimney. To do this, climb onto your roof and gradually move the brush, with several rods attached, down the chimney from the top. When you reach the bottom, take the brush back out. Repeat this until an inspection by flashlight shows a clean chimney. Sometimes, if the chimney requires thorough cleaning, you may need to use chemical cleaning spray.

As an alternative to rods, you can attach your chimney brush to a rope. On the other end of the rope, tie a weight of at least 20 pounds. Lower the brush into the chimney, raise it back up again, and repeat until your flashlight shows a clean chimney.

No matter which method you choose to clean your chimney, be sure to seal off your fireplace or stove while you are working. This will prevent soot from entering your house. Vacuum up any residue before using your chimney or stove again.

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