How to Clean a Chimney

Steps for Cleaning a Chimney

There are four basic methods for cleaning a chimney. You s­hould explore all of the methods listed here and decide which one works best for your situation.

  • Rod Method, Top Down - This method requires that you be on the roof. After inserting it into the opening of the chimney, you will use the chimney brush to clean the inside walls of the chimney by raising and lowering the brush. The brush will be connected to flexible metal rods, and you will add rods to extend the length of the brush as you get further down the chimney. Many people prefer this method because it results in the least amount of cleanup inside the house. You can close off the opening to the fireplace within the house, which will help contain the suit and debris.
  • Rod Method, Bottom Up - This method is similar to the top down rod method; however you work from the fireplace opening within your house, working from the bottom up to the top of the chimney. Though safer since you do not need to get on your roof, it's very messy since you cannot seal off the opening of the fireplace. Be sure to use plenty of tarps and drop cloths to keep nearby flooring and furniture clean.
  • Weight Method - This method follows the same setup as the top down flexible rod method, but instead of attaching your chimney brush to flexible metal rods, you use rope, pull rings and weights. You'll assemble the rope and pull rings, adding a weight of at least 20 pounds (9 kilograms) to the brush, raising and lowering the brush to scrub the internal walls of the chimney. With this method, you can also close off the fireplace opening to your house, allowing for a more contained clean up.
  • Dual Line Method - This method takes two people. A rope (and pull ring for holding onto if you like) is attached to both ends of the brush. One person takes the brush and rope setup onto the roof and, while holding on to one end of the rope, drops the setup down the chimney. The other person, who is in the house at the fireplace opening, grabs the other end of the rope. Each person takes turns pulling the rope, in order to work the brush up and down to scrub the internal walls of the chimney. Since the fireplace opening cannot be sealed for this method, it can be quite messy. Be sure to use tarps and drop cloths to keep nearby flooring and furniture clean. [sources: Northline Express, Repair Home].

Continue reading for some important chimney-cleaning safety concerns.