Cleaning a chimney is important to do when the creosote builds up to a quarter of an inch. Chimney cleaning gets rid of creosote, which is unhealthy to breathe in, and prevents damage inside the chimney if the soot catches fire. If you decide this is something you want to try yourself, consider the different methods for getting the job down.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated on August 10, 2017.
Top Down Methods
For these methods, you need to be on a roof. This is where that A-frame ladder comes in handy. One advantage of the top down method is that they are usually less messy indoors around the fireplace area if the doors are closed and a cover is in place. Also, remember to take the cap off the top of the chimney or else you will not be able to get the brush inside.
For this you, you will use the chimney brush at the top and clean the inside walls by lowering and then raising it. Start with the shortest rod and after one section is clean, add another rod to lengthen and clean the next section. Keep adding attachments until the whole length is clean.
In this top down method, you lower the brush with a rope from the top like in the rod method. Because the chimney cleaning happens from the roof, it is easy to seal off the chimney below, making less of a mess in the house. For this technique, ropes, rings, and weights are assembled in order to lower and lift. Up to twenty pounds of weight is added, so be prepared to use some muscle.
Bottom Up Methods
This starts at the bottom and works upward. The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t require a ladder. You don’t have to be on a roof if you are concerned about heights or shingle damage. The disadvantage is that this is far messier because the bottom can’t be sealed up. For that reason, you need drop cloths and tarps around the fireplace and need to cover furniture.
Like the rod method where you work top down, this works similarly because you start with one rod attached to the chimney brush before adding another section.
There are newer tools out there that attach to electric tools like drills which whip around to clean chimneys. Be sure to read reviews before buying attachments for a drill to ensure this is a product that isn’t going to cause damage to your fireplace—or you.
The Dual Method
Double the trouble with a partner in crime. One person is on the roof, while one person is below. Each person has ahold of a rope attached to opposite ends of the brush and they take turns pulling it. Be aware, the bottom end gets very dirty just as the bottom up method does and drop cloths are necessary to keep the house clean.
Tools You Will Need:
- Measuring tape
- Dust mask
- Shop vacuum
- Metal bucket
- Broom and Dustpan
- Tarp or drop cloth
- Fireplace cover
- Chimney brush
- Chimney brush rods
- Small handheld brush
If the hassle and mess of the bottom up method doesn’t sound enticing, and standing on the roof also doesn’t work for you, consider calling a professional. Located in Eugene, Oregon, Oregon Chimney Guys also serve the surrounding areas. We provide chimney sweep services and perform chimney repairs and replacements.