How to Clean a Chimney

Starting a fire in a chimney will cause an accumulation of soot and creosote, a sticky, flammable substance that can cause the chimney to catch fire if not cleaned. Hiring a professional to clean your chimney can be quite expensive, so if you use your chimney a lot, try purchasing some equipment from a hardware store to clean your chimney yourself. This article provides information on 3 ways to clean your chimney, along with tips for safely cleaning your chimney.

1. Get Ready to Clean the Chimney

1. Determine if the chimney needs cleaning.

Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year, or more if you use your chimney frequently.

1. Take a flashlight and peer into the chimney pipe. Use a pencil or plastic knife to pry off some of the creosote that has accumulated on the sides of the chimney. If the liquid is 0.3 cm or thicker, it’s time to clean the chimney.
2. If you only clean your chimney once a year, do so in the fall, before winter arrives. Otherwise, you run the risk of starting a fire in the chimney the first time the chimney is lit in winter.

2. Check whether there is an animal in the chimney or not.

If you haven’t used the chimney in a while, check to see if there are any living things in the chimney before you start cleaning. Birds, squirrels, and raccoons like to build nests there, especially in winter. Turn on the flashlight and peek from the fireplace to examine them, if you find animals, remove them.

3. Measure the length of the smoke pipe on your chimney.

To clean the chimney, you must use the correct sized equipment, through the fireplace. You can also climb up with a ladder and measure it from above.

1. Calculate the size and shape of the smoke pipe. The smoke pipe can be square or circular, 18 to 24 cm.
2. Determine the height of the chimney. If you’re just guessing, it’s best to go for a longer size, so you have extra string or pipe to make sure the chimney brush can reach the entire length of the chimney.

4. Purchase a chimney cleaning kit.

Go to a hardware store and purchase the following tools for chimney cleaning:

1. A chimney brush, either wire or plastic. Use the chimney measurements to purchase the correct sized brush.
2. Chimney brush connecting pipe, to help you clean the entire length of the chimney. Alternatively, you can purchase a weighing strap designed for use with a flue brush, or a pulley.
3. Smaller wire brush.
4. Plastic sheeting or used rags for use in your home.
5. A ladder high enough to reach the roof of your house, if you plan on cleaning the chimney from top to bottom.
6. Broom and dustpan.
7. Dust mask and goggles.

5. Dress appropriately.

Wear old clothes so you don’t have to worry about getting dirty with soot. Cover your hair with a hair cap. You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands. Use a dust mask and goggles to prevent soot from getting into the mouth and eyes.

6. Prepare your home before the cleaning process.

Spread a rag or tarp over your fireplace, extending the fabric into your living room a few feet. Use sheets or tarpaulins to cover the furniture with a light material. Roll up your expensive rug.

7. Remove the flame regulator from the smoke pipe.

Find the adjusting handle in your chimney, then use a small wire brush to clean it. Remove it from the chimney and place it next to a rag so it doesn’t get exposed to the dust and dirt that comes out of the chimney while you’re cleaning.

2. Cleaning the Chimney from Top to Bottom

1. Install the ladder and climb up to the roof.

Assuming that your roof is strong enough to step on and you’re brave enough to do so, set your ladder right up towards the house. Bring a chimney brush and extension pipe, swing over your shoulders, then climb the ladder.

1. If you have any doubts about climbing stairs or stepping on your roof, simply clean the chimney from the ground up, using the method described below.
2. If you are unsure of the quality of your roof, or if your roof is in doubt and you are not good at balancing, use another method.

2. Arrange the brush and one section of the pipe.

Connect the first pipe section to the brush head. Insert the brush into the chimney. Using an up and down motion, start scrubbing the smoke pipe clean. Add more pipe pieces to make the brush taller. Continue this way until you have completely cleaned the smoke pipe.

1. If you are using a rope and pulley, attach the rope to the brush. Hold the end of the rope and lower the brush into the chimney. Move it up and down and scrub all over the smoke pipe.

3. Remove the brush and extension tube, or remove the rope.

Put the equipment in the bag and go down the stairs.

4. Clean the bottom of the chimney.

Use a small wire brush to clean the bottom of the smoke pipe that the brush may not be able to reach.

3. Alternative Method

1. Clean the chimney from the bottom up.

1. Attach the brush and one piece of pipe.
2. Attach the first pipe piece to the brush.
3. Insert the brush into the chimney through the fireplace. With an up and down scrubbing motion, clean all parts of the smoke pipe.
4. Add another part of the pipe so you can extend the brush to touch the higher part.
5. Continue this way until you have thoroughly cleaned the inside of the smoke pipe.

2. Use the pulley with a partner.

1. Purchase a pulley to use with your chimney brush. Two ropes will be attached to the brush, one at the top and one at the bottom, then the brush will be operated from both ends of the fireplace and roof.
2. Attach the pulley with the brush. Have someone take him up to the roof.
3. The person on the roof must hold one end of the rope, and drop the other end, with the brush in the middle, through the smoke pipe toward the person waiting below.
4. Working together, use the string to move the brush up and down, so that it can clean all parts of the smoke pipe.

4. Finish the job

1. Clean the nozzle of the smoke pipe.

At the very bottom of the chimney, usually in the basement, you can find a small door that leads directly into the area under the smoke pipe. The soot and creosote residue must have accumulated there. Use a small shovel to move it into a bucket. Replace the fire control handle.

2. Use a brush and dustpan to remove debris from the fireplace.

Transfer all the debris into the bucket.

3. Use a brush and dustpan to sweep up any debris that may be on the tarp or washcloth.

Put everything in the bucket.

4. Dispose of soot and creosote in accordance with applicable regulations.

Since creosote is a flammable substance, it should not be thrown in the trash.


1. Do not try to stand on the roof when conditions are slippery and wet.
2. Do not start a fire around the chimney during the cleaning process.
3. Do not suck in air from soot or creosote, and wash your hands immediately after contact.
4. Seek professional help if you are not comfortable with the chimney cleaning process.

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