How to Clean a Chimney

How to Clean a chimney

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When purchasing a home having a fireplace can be such an attractive asset that you forget you need to clean it and properly maintain it. If it isn’t taken care of it can be a big problem down the road, but with proper maintenance it can be a fantastic item in your home that your family will enjoy for years to come. If this is the first time you have had a fireplace, and you aren’t sure exactly how to clean it, here is how you can easily and regularly take care of it.

Prep the Area

Start by spreading a plastic tarp or painter’s drop cloth on the area surrounding your fireplace. This will protect the floor in your home, and make it easier to clean up all the debris afterwards. Then start by removing all the ash and leftover bits of wood from the immediately visible area.

Once that has happened, you can go ahead and open the damper. First, though, it is imperative you isolate your fireplace from the rest of the room the fireplace is in. Use a thick plastic tarp and solid quality tape to seal off the fireplace. If you don’t create an airtight seal, or skip this step, you will find your home covered in a layer of dust later on.

Protect Yourself

When thinking about cleaning a chimney many homeowners do not even consider the need for protective gear for themselves, but they should. For this task you should purchase a pair of goggles that will completely seal around your eyes. If you try to make due with goggles that don’t seal properly you may yourself with debris in your eyes at best and a trip to the hospital at worst. Additionally you will need a reliable dust mask, several kinds of chimney brushes and a safe way to get on the roof.

If you do not feel comfortable getting on the roof then no need to do so, as there are professionals who will complete this task for you.

Remove any Covers

You might have a cap or some form of guard to keep animals out, so you’ll need to remove that and then start sweeping. Start with the largest diameter brush you have and work from the top down. Take your time here and make sure to sweep and brush thoroughly, as you don’t want all this effort to go to waste.

Wait a Bit

After you have finished sweeping from the top of the chimney, wait a while and then start to slowly – and carefully – remove the tarp sealing off the fireplace. You should wait a while because the dust and debris will settle, so if you remove it right away you might find a mess all of over your house. Continue to remove the plastic sheet and use something similar to a shop vacuum to clean up all the debris. You may have to empty it once or twice, depending on the size of the vacuum and the amount of debris you have to clean up.

ProTip: while you’re removing the plastic covering ensure that no one in the house opens any exterior doors as the sudden draft could cause the soot and debris to go flying and make a huge mess in the house.

While it is not an especially enjoyable house task you can prevent some large problems from developing by completing this job at least once a year. Once you have done the job you will become much more comfortable completing in going forward. If you still aren’t completely comfortable in doing it, or perhaps cannot complete it yourself, there are professional companies you can call to complete this task for you. Either way, ensuring your chimney is properly cleaned will allow you and your family to enjoy your fireplace for years.


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