Regular chimney cleaning is an important step in regular chimney maintenance and in the prevention of chimney fires. Without proper cleaning, creosote, a black flammable substance, can build up inside your chimney and cause deterioration or even catch fire. Many people hire a chimney sweep to clean their chimney. It is a job that needs to be done right. However, if you’d like to clean your own chimney, here’s how to do it.
First, you’ll need the right tools. Measure your chimney flue, and purchase a brush that most closely matches its size and shape. You can find brushes at Lowes, Amazon.com, and specialized online chimney stores. They are usually between $20-50, depending on brand and size. You’ll also need chimney brush rods, enough lengths to reach the bottom of your chimney from the top. They are usually about 3 to 4 feet long and about $8 each. You’ll also need something to cover your fireplace opening to trap debris. If you have glass doors, close them. A garbage sack or sheet of plastic and some tape can help seal out debris as well if needed. You’ll probably want something to cover furniture and carpet near the fireplace just in case. An old sheet or tarp will take care of any unwanted mess.
Now that you have everything prepped, it’s time to get started. Remove your chimney cap if necessary, or any damper that blocks access to the chimney flue. Push the brush down through the chimney, scrubbing vigorously in small sections as you move down through the chimney.
As you get to the end of your first rod, attach another rod and keep moving down through the chimney. Repeat this process until you get to the bottom.
When the brush has reached the bottom of the chimney, begin working your way back up, pushing and pulling the brush, scrubbing vigorously to clean the inside of the chimney liner. Once you reach the top, begin going back down through the entire chimney again, until it is well scrubbed. It may take several passes. Be sure to wear safety glasses to avoid getting debris in your eyes as the brush comes out the top of the chimney.
Once you feel the chimney has been well scrubbed, take a flashlight and inspect it. Look down the chimney carefully to make sure there are no more deposits of creosote. If there are any deposits left, use the brush again to remove them.
After the chimney has been thoroughly cleaned, go inside to the fireplace and with a shop vacuum, carefully vacuum up the debris. Be sure furniture and carpets are covered to prevent soiling. Vacuum or sweep the fireplace box until it is nice and clean.
If you discover you have extensive creosote deposits that are not easily removed with a brush, you may need to hire a chimney sweep to remove them. Black, shiny creosote deposits called glaze creosote may need to be removed using specialized chemicals. Call your local chimney sweep for removal of stubborn glaze creosote buildup.
Thanks to Corey Binford for his step by step video on Chimney Cleaning 101. You can watch this video on YouTube.
Getting a fire started is not always as easy as it sounds. Many people use different tricks or tips to light a nice roaring fire. It is important to get a nice hot fire going in your fireplace to increase efficiency and decrease smoking.
It may not be the season to start a fire in your fireplace quite yet, but these methods may also help you when starting that campfire this Labor Day weekend.
Method 1 - Quick & Easy Fire Starter
Step 1 - Gather dry kindling.
Use small pieces of split wood that will burn easily. Place it in the center of your fireplace on the grate or in the bottom of your fire pit. Be sure to stack it loosely to promote air flow.
Step 2 - Stack split logs around the kindling.
You've probably seen a tepee or log cabin style of fire. We often use a combination of these two types of fire building. If you're lighting the fire in your fireplace, be sure to stack your logs so they won't be able to roll into the room. Again be sure to stack loosely to promote air flow.
Step 3 - Make your newspaper fire starter.
If you've ever started a fire, you know you need small pieces of wood for kindling and larger pieces of wood for keeping your fire fueled. Getting that kindling to burn isn't always easy. Fire starters are often used to get the fire burning quickly and easily. You can purchase commercial fire starters, use tinder like small dry twigs or grasses, or use paper. Newspaper makes a great fire starter because it is readily available (even if you only get a small paper in your junk mail), and the paper is uncoated, unlike magazines. We're going to use newspaper to make a quick fire-starter. I know, you've probably used crumpled paper before. I know I have, usually with less than successful results. Instead of crumpling the paper, we're going to shred it.
Beginning at the fold, tear the paper into 1 inch wide strips. Gather the strips into a pile. Fluff the pile with your hands to create a nice fluffy nest of paper. Now place your fire starter loosely at the bottom of your fire. If using a grate in your fireplace, place it under the grate.
Step 4 - Light your fire.
Using a match or lighter, light the shredded paper. The fluffy bunch of strips will quickly light and soon catch your kindling on fire, and in turn light your logs. You should have a nice warm fire in no time!
Method 2 - The Upside-Down Fire
Instead of placing the fire starter and kindling on the bottom, we'll place it on top.
Step 1 - Place your logs.
Use split wood for easier burning. Stack 3 to 4 pieces in one direction, and then stack 3-4 more on top in the other direction, making sure there's room for air to circulate. In your fireplace, you'll stack these on your grate. If you're using a fire pit at a campground, you might use a few rocks to get your logs up off the ground.
Step 2 - Add dry kindling.
Use smaller branches or split wood pieces that will burn more quickly. Make a nice pile on top of your logs.
Step 3 - Add your tinder and fire starter.
Use strips of paper as before, or lay wider strips of paper across the top. Commercial fire starters work well with this fire too. Pile some very small tinder on top.
Step 4 - Light your fire.
Now light the paper and/or fire starter, and in a few minutes you'll be enjoying your fire.
Don't forget the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for S'mores. Sliced strawberries are great on S'mores too, try it if you haven't. Have a great weekend!
Do you have any tricks that you use to get your fire started? Leave us a comment!
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