With the cold air of winter moving in, and perhaps a potential visit from a jolly bearded fellow in a red coat (if you’ve been good), now is a good time to clean out your chimney. Cleaning out your chimney is a bit of a chore, but it’s an extremely important one. By cleaning out your chimney, you are protecting your family and home from creosote fires. Creosote is the tar-like soot that builds up over time in your chimney from wood smoke. Cleaning out your chimney before lighting the first fire of the year is also important because I’m sure you don’t want to harm any birds or squirrels that may have made a home for themselves in your chimney since the last time you used your fireplace.
Cleaning out the chimney yourself can be a bit of a messy job, but it can also save you money. With a few cheap items from the local hardware store, you can have your chimney clean and safe for use over the long winter. The best time clean your chimney out is early fall, right before the time when you will use the fireplace the most.If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned out for awhile (or ever), you may want to have a professional come in to inspect it just to make sure you don’t have a dangerous amount of soot, or that the workmanship on the chimney itself is ok.
Once you’re ready to start cleaning, throw on some junk clothes, put on a dusk mask, lay down some drop cloths around your fireplace and get to work. You’ll need a stiff wire brush, chimney brush and a flashlight (preferably one you can mount on your head). Your first step is to reach inside the fireplace, find and open the damper and brush it off with the wire brush. Next, cover your fireplace with a damp blanket to keep soot and other junk from from getting in your home. Then, head up to your roof and scrape the inside of your chimney as far as you can reach with the chimney brush. Push down and pull up several times all along the inside. When you’re done with the top of the chimney, come back down, go into the fireplace, and start scraping the sides as far up as you can with the wire brush. After you’re done with that, replace the metal damper clean up the soot and mess (Shop Vac works great). The final step before lighting that toasty fire is to light a creosote sweeping log, this will reduce the amount of creosote that gets stuck in your chimney and make it easier to clean.