How to Clean a Chimney From Inside
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It’s a fact of life that if you have a chimney, it will eventually need cleaning. Why do you need to clean your chimney so frequently? For example, the frequency with which it’s used and even the fuel being burned can affect the answer.
So, Why Should You Do It?
When creosote buildup that forms inside chimneys due to wood smoke catches fire, it poses the greatest threat to home safety. Wood stoves are the most typical source of this issue, but fireplaces can also be a source. With temperatures above 2,000F, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) says that chimney fires can cause masonry chimneys to crack and spark a fire in wood framing around the chimney.
How to Maintain a Clean Chimney
One technique to reduce creosote production is to burn dry, well-seasoned wood. It is more likely that green wood will condense in the flue because of the lower temperature at which it burns.
Creosote may also be more prone to form in older wood stoves than in newer models. Compared to previous, non-certified models, EPA-certified wood stoves burn more effectively, reducing chimney creosote buildup. It is nevertheless recommended that chimneys that support more contemporary wood stoves be cleaned and inspected by the EPA, CSIA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) annually.
Wood, Gas, and Oil Fireplace Chimney Cleaning
A CSIA-certified chimney sweep should inspect any chimney that vents a fuel-burning appliance, including non-wood-burning boilers, furnaces, or water heaters.
Creosote isn’t a problem with gas or oil, but there are two more issues to keep in mind:
For starters, if you burn oil, there’s a potential that soot will accumulate in your chimney, allowing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into your home. You can also get services for chimney repair in Houston.
If water condenses in the exhaust from either fuel, some byproducts of combustion can form a corrosive mixture with the water, harming the flue liner. Flue gases can leak into your home if the damage is significant enough.
While chimneys for wood stoves and heavily used fireplaces should be cleaned once a year, a Level 1 inspection is likely all that is required for your gas or oil chimney. For example, the NFPA has a three-tiered system of review:
Level 1 is a visual inspection of the chimney for harmful deposits and structural integrity.
When selling a house or switching from one fuel source to another, inspectors can do Level 2 inspections. During Level 2 chimney inspections, combustibles should checke for sufficient clearance from the chimney.
Instructions for cleaning your chimney.
While it’s a good idea to have the chimney evaluated by a CSIA-certified professional, serious DIYers can perform some of the necessary repairs. It would help if you learned how to clean a chimney from inside. To clean your chimney yourself, these are the steps:
- Look inside the flue to see if there are any obstructions. If you have a flashlight and mirror, you can view the chimney from the bottom, either through the cleanout or by looking up from the fireplace.
- As a rule, the best view would see from the top. To do this, you’ll need to be able to climb ladders and safely and comfortably perch on a roof, which means you’ll need to be above the chimney.
- Light a torch into the chimney flue by removing its chimney cap
- Look for damage to the duct and a buildup of a dark, flaky substance from above or below. Creosote is what you’re looking at.
- Creosote is a sign that the chimney needs cleaning.NFPA Standard 211 specifies the procedures for making repairs in the event of damage.
Most Useful Equipment You’ll Need to Clean a Chimney.
Even though it may appear simple, cleaning a chimney is a job best left to the professionals. For the most part, employing a professional is the best course of action. However, a seasoned DIYer can clean their chimney with the correct equipment, abilities, and understanding of what to look for.
A chimney brush that’s the right size and forms for your flue, along with enough extension rods to cover the entire length of your duct, is what you should do (rods come in 4-, 5-, and 6-foot lengths). Use a metal brush for masonry flues and a poly brush for stainless steel flues.
A chimney brush can be used as follows:
- Wrap plastic around the fireplace entrance and close the woodstove door.
- With the damper open and the chimney cap removed, the first rod is threaded into the chimney.
- As you push the brush down into the flue, scrub it from top to bottom, making sure to get to the bottom.
- Repeat the scrubbing process as many times as necessary until you reach the bottom.
- Check to check if you’ve removed all the creosote from the chimney when you remove the brush. Repeat the process if you haven’t already.
- Shop vacuum any of the creosote that has fallen into lower locations after you have cleaned the flue.
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