Chimney Cleaning Basics

Chimney cleaning requires a few specialized tools. These include a chimney brush that’s sized to fit the flue and enough extension rods to run the flue’s length.Chimney

There are two ways to clean a chimney: the rod method and the top-down method. The former involves climbing up on the roof and using a chimney brush to remove creosote from inside the flue. Click to learn more.

Creosote is a dark brown or black byproduct of wood burning fires that accumulates inside your chimney flue. It is a dangerous and toxic chemical that is not only harmful to humans, but can also cause severe damage to your chimney system. It cannot be prevented, but can be reduced with regular cleanings and preventative maintenance.

There are several factors that can contribute to the build up of creosote in your fireplace and chimney. These include a flue that is too large for the fireplace or wood burning stove, unseasoned wood that has more moisture content, and restricted air supply. Creosote can also increase when smoke rises more slowly than it should because of a blocked flue or chimney lining.

As creosote ages it becomes harder to remove. There are three stages of creosote accumulation, and each one is more difficult to remove than the last. Stage one is a dusty or puffy deposit that is easily removed with a basic chimney brush. It is similar to soot but has a more tar-like appearance. Stage two creosote is a darker, more flaky deposit that is difficult to remove with a brush. This is a sign that it is time to call a professional.

In the final stage, the creosote is shiny and thick like a tar-like coating. This is more than just hard to remove, it can actually lead to chimney fires because it restricts the flow of smoke. If you notice this, call a chimney sweep immediately.

There are some ways to minimize creosote buildup in your chimney, such as using seasoned wood that has less moisture content. You can also use self-cleaning logs that burn at a higher temperature than regular wood and help break down creosote faster. However, it is important to follow the directions for these products because they should only be used on an as-needed basis and not more than twice a year.

Chimney sweeps also use a product called PCR (Preservative Coating) that is specially formulated to dissolve and absorb 3rd degree glazed creosote from metal flue tiles and stainless steel chimney liners. This makes the creosote softer and easier to remove with a chimney brush, scraper, or power rotary whip. PCR can also be used to treat a damaged chimney lining that has been exposed to a chimney fire.


Soot is a powdery, black, oily and sticky substance that occurs when wood or coal is burned incompletely. It consists of toxins, harmful chemicals, metals and other debris. Soot can clog your chimney flue if it is not removed regularly. In addition, it is extremely dangerous for your family and pets. It can cause health problems such as lungs and respiratory problems. It can also lead to fires and chimney fires.

Chimney sweeps are trained to safely remove soot from your chimney and home. They use a variety of tools, including brushes and wires, to scrape away the accumulated layer of soot. They also use a HEPA-rated vacuum for dust control and drop cloths to protect your floors, carpets and furnishings from soot and creosote. Chimney sweeps are required to wear face masks and goggles to prevent exposure to soot, which contains carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and is genotoxic.

When soot and creosote accumulate in the chimney, it can restrict air flow, which increases the risk of a chimney fire. This can be dangerous and expensive. Moreover, soot can be inhaled by your family and pets, which can result in serious medical problems. Chimney cleaning professionals can remove the accumulating creosote and soot using special chemical cleaners. They can also spray a protective coating to help seal your chimney from rain and other contaminants.

It is important to clean your chimney periodically to avoid the buildup of soot, tar and creosote. The chimney should be inspected annually by a professional to ensure that it is in good condition. Besides cleaning the chimney, it is also important to install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

A non-corrosive powder chemical cleaner is used to remove the accumulated creosote, soot and tar from the walls of the chimney flue. It also helps to make the fire burn cleaner, increase heater efficiency and reduce smoke emissions. It is recommended to use a product. This product is available from most hardware and chimney supply stores. It is easy to apply, safe for all types of chimneys and flues, and is tested thoroughly.


Debris is the term used for anything that gets into the chimney or flue from outside. These can be leaves, rodents, twigs, or even dead birds that may fall into the fireplace. These things can block the flow of smoke and dangerous carbon monoxide into your home. They can also cause the deterioration of the lining in the chimney and the bricks and mortar that make up the chimney.

Chimney sweeps are trained to find and remove these objects. They use brushes attached to flexible poles that they can extend into the chimney to get rid of any debris. They can also take a hand-held mirror to see inside the chimney and spot any items. Many chimney sweeps start from the top down and work their way down the chimney, scraping all of the coating off of the lining so that it falls into the fireplace to be cleaned or swept away.

If you do a lot of burning, it is important to have a chimney cap installed. These can keep invasive animals like birds and racoons from nesting in your chimney, as well as prevent rain, sleet, snow, or ice from getting into the chimney. It is recommended that you have a chimney cap installed at all times, even if you don’t regularly burn fires.

Cleaning a chimney is messy and requires protective clothing like gloves, eyewear, and a dust mask. It is a good idea to cover any furniture or floor in the room near your fireplace with tarps or drop cloths to protect them from soot and dirt. If you are not comfortable climbing a ladder or working on your roof, it is best to hire a professional for this type of work.

You can do some of the work yourself if you have access to a roof ladder and a sturdy ladder and tools. Before starting, it is a good idea to cover any rugs or carpeting in the area with plastic sheeting. During the cleanup process, creosote and other debris will be kicked up by the chimney sweep. It will then land on the tarp or sheeting and fall back onto the living areas below. This can create a huge mess that will require extra clean-up effort.


When it comes to cleaning your chimney, safety should always be the primary concern. A dirty chimney is more than just a nuisance; it can also pose health and safety issues for your family. Chimneys that are not cleaned regularly can develop blockages that can cause fires and allow dangerous gases to back up into the home.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, your chimney should be cleaned when an appreciable amount of sooty glaze or creosote is evident. A dirty chimney can also reduce the efficiency of your fireplace and can even damage the roof and structure of the house. It is also important to clean the flue and venting systems that connect your furnace and stove to your chimney as well.

It is important to hire a qualified and certified chimney sweep to complete this type of work. When choosing a chimney sweep, you should do your research and ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors. You can also check out a company’s credentials on the Chimney Safety Institute of America website or the Better Business Bureau to ensure they are reputable. A chimney sweep who does not have proper credentials or training could make a major mess and create additional costly repairs for you.

Before your chimney sweep arrives, you should make sure that your fireplace is completely cooled down and there are no burning logs in the fireplace. It is also a good idea to remove any other items from your mantel and fireplace area that might be damaged by soot. Also, it is a good idea to cover furniture and carpet with old blankets in case there is any soot that falls during the chimney cleaning process.

While you are waiting for the chimney sweep to arrive, it is a good idea to lock all doors and windows to prevent unwanted critters from entering your home. Some chimney sweeps will use a ladder to reach the top of your chimney, so it is important to keep children and pets away from that area while they are working.

Irving Harvin