Pellet Versus Wire­

You don't need to select wire for your chimney brush. You can actually use a heavy-duty nylon brush, known as a Pellet Stove brush. This type of brush, often priced similarly to its wire counterpart, generally has a ball tip that can guide the brush through any bends your chimney might have [source: Northline Express]. ­

Tools Needed to Clean a Chimney

To clean your own chimney, you're going to need some specific tools. While these items are not particularly fancy or specialized, chances are you may not have all of what you need just lying around your house. But before you get ready to go shopping, you'll need to do a little research.

You're going to need to examine your chimney and measure its opening with a tape measure. This will allow you to get the most crucial tool needed to clean a chimney -- the wire chimney brush. It's important to get a sense of what your chimney is like because there are many wire chimney brushes on the market -- round, square or rectangle, and they come in a variety of sizes from just a few inches to almost a foot (5 cm to almost 30 cm) [source: Northline Express].

There are actually four general methods for cleaning. Some are more difficult than others are (and require more than one person) but all four methods usually involve many of the same tools.

To clean your chimney, you will need:

  • Chimney brush
  • Either chimney brush rods or rope and pull rings (depending on the method)
  • Fireplace cover
  • Tarp, drop cloth or other similar coverings for the floor and furniture
  • Tape
  • Mirror
  • Metal bucket
  • Shovel and broom
  • Shop vacuum
  • Flashlight
  • Dust mask/goggles
  • Ladder [source: NASD]

Whether you'll need a ladder or not depends on the cleaning method you choose. For example, the "bottom up" method, which works from your fireplace up through the chimney, does not require a ladder (or a trip to your roof). If you're afraid of heights or you're simply not comfortable climbing on top of your roof, this indoor cleaning method might be ideal for you. However, the indoor methods are also extremely dirty, because all that dust, dirt, soot, ash and creosote will get into the air and all over the furnishings in that room. So make sure you don't skimp on tarps and drop cloths.

Read on to learn about the four basic chimney-cleaning methods.