If your home smells like burned wood or fills with smoke when you light a fire, it might be time to clean the chimney. Hiring a professional chimney sweeper may be expensive and time-consuming, forcing you to miss work so you can sit home and wait for the chimney sweep to arrive. Use homemade tools for cleaning a chimney, and get the job done yourself for a lot less money.
Chimney Related Tools
You'll need more than chimney brushes when you attempt to clean your chimney on your own. Use old sheets as drop cloths, completely covering flooring and furniture before you begin the job. Also wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in harmful soot, eye protection to guard against soot, and gloves to keep your hands from getting covered in dirt and ash.
Even when you do your own chimney-sweeping, you'll need a steel brush to clean it properly. Buying the right size brush is important; otherwise, it will not work for cleaning the chimney. Measure the inside of the chimney liner using a tape measure. Buy a brush that is neither too big nor too small. You want a brush that will fit into the chimney and move up and down easily, but not so easily that it applies no pressure to the inner walls of the chimney.
Cleaning a chimney may be done in one of two ways: from the top, or from the bottom. When you start at the top, you'll climb up to the roof of your home and insert the cleaning brush down inside the chimney. The brush will be propelled by a long rod when professionals do it this way. It's also possible to clean the chimney from the bottom, starting at the hearth and pushing the cleaning brush up. Starting from the bottom and going up may seem like the easier of the two methods, but it's much, much messier to clean the chimney in this fashion.
First, close off your chimney at the hearth so soot will not fly all over your home. Fill a jug with water. Get on the roof and remove any cap or spark catcher that may be in place. Tie the jug to a rope that is as long as the chimney itself, and tie the chimney brush to the other end of the jug. Carefully lower the weight all the way down the length of the chimney, then pull it back up with the same deliberation. It may be necessary to repeat this procedure several times. When the brush begins to return to you relatively free of soot and debris, you're done.
Even the most tightly sealed fireplace cannot prevent all the soot that will escape when you clean your chimney. After the job is done, you'll need a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean your home.
- Photo Credit fireplace with iron lattice image by Nikolay Okhitin from Fotolia.com
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