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Chimney cleaning

 
master gardener
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This week will see me going on the roof to clean the chimney.  So, how often do you do it and how?
 
Rocket Scientist
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Hi John;
Kinda easy here.  My chimney is all metal.  About 10' tall.
The top 2' is metal bestos thru a proper roof jack.
It is topped with a plain coolie cap.
All but 18" is indoors.
The inside pipe you just use your poker a few times a season and bang the pipe.
You can hear the crusty creosote falling into the firebox.
On the outside its almost as easy. Standing on the foundation wall, using an 8' pole.
You can lift the cap rite off! Bring it down to clean and then set it back on top of the chimney!
Takes about twenty minutes...
Easy peasy!
 
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Our fireplace is in need, too. It's huge, stone, and goes to the peak of the cathedral ceiling. This isn't something I'm comfortable with doing outside, and we're not equipped to do it, from either direction. Due to a long list of events this spring and summer, we weren't able to hire someone, and now they're booked all the way to the end of January. I honestly don't know what to do.
 
pollinator
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I am told that chimney sweeps are run off their feet in my area. As are sellers of firewood. Business is triple what it was. People are stuck at home facing a long, La Nina, Covidic winter; an occasional fire might bring great joy.

Traditional methods like a broom of evergreen boughs, with rope above and below, wielded by two stout lads on either end, are still effective for masonry, but darn messy. Right, Gov'ner! Regardless of method, either lock your stove door tight or tape off the lower portion with an airtight barrier. That fine dust will go bloody everywhere!

The flexible fibreglass rods that screw together really are the cat's posterior. They will last a lifetime, and you can lend them to friends in exchange for eggs/beers, multiplying your investment.

I've found that smooth, straight, insulated metal chimneys will tend to drain creosote back into the burning area if managed well. Corrugated flexible chimneys can be a big problem -- too many nooks for cooling and deposits. I've seen some scary ones that could well have taken a house.

Whatever you do, please don't be casual about cleaning. Creosote is a high energy fuel that takes a lot to ignite, but turns into a freaky hot persistent blowtorch when it gets there. Yikes.
 
Carla Burke
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No stout lads available, no boughs, no door to seal, if we're to have someone above and below... We do try to be careful what woods we burn, and no paper products, ever. ~heavy sigh~
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Is there a way to do a visual inspection with a strong spotlight? You could at least get some indication of how much stuff has accumulated in the chimney.
 
Carla Burke
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Is there a way to do a visual inspection with a strong spotlight? You could at least get some indication of how much stuff has accumulated in the chimney.



Maybe? I'm not really sure why I never thought of that. So, just open the flue, shine a high power light up, and explore... I might be able to do that, at least! Thank you!
 
John F Dean
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Hi Carla

Depending upon how much the fireplace is used, I dont think missing a season should be a problem. Now, my assumption is that you dont light it up every day.    If it is not used daily,  I would start the season with a hot fire, paper and cardboard, and burn off the surface junk.   I normally do this before I clean my chimney  anyway.   That said, given your location,  Jan is not too long of a wait.  Of course,  do have plan B is place if things go sideways.  But I have never had a problem.

Yes, I have a couple of large fireplaces as well. The one in the basement has an insert. The LR one has glass doors.  We often talk about putting something more efficient in the LR, but the open fire always wins.  There are some days that nothing beats a wood burning fireplace.
 
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Five words:  "SootEater Rotary Chimney Cleaning System"  

I've been using this system for at least six years now and I highly recommend it.
The rods are very flexible (can bend through a 1' radius) and interlock securely.
If your chimney has a bottom cleanout/access, you can feed it in from below and avoid the hazard of going up on the roof.

I have a couple of bends in my chimney and I haven't had any problems with the rods breaking or end-connects coming apart.
They are inexpensive enough where I typically buy a new set every few years, just in case the old ones develop stress cracks that I can't see.
The old sets have come in handy for cleaning out clogged sewer drain pipes.

Only down side is they don't get into the corners of square flues, but I use them in conjunction with creosote remover sticks and it does a good job.

The kit comes with enough rods to do an 18' chimney, so depending on the length of your chimney, you may need to purchase extra rods (or another kit).
 
John F Dean
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Hi Pete,

The price at amazon is a tad over $44.00. That compares well with a conventional  brush.  ...at least I think so, I haven't bought a brush in ages.

https://www.amazon.com/vdp/cdd1122a32b44ab9965db1acce045a56?product=B0010H5JXA&ref=cm_sw_em_r_ib_dt_Yfv5ikV8DQVoB
 
John F Dean
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Hi Thomas,

I have a total of 3 chimneys.... all of which are tall.  I use a conventional brush.  I suspect that unlike you, I have radiant electric heat in the ceilings (that I dont use) and an LP furnace ....so I have plenty of backup.   My basement is massive, and there is a concrete slab under part of the house. My point being that once it is heated, it stays heated.
 
Pete Podurgiel
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Hi John - yeah, that's not a bad price. They pay for themselves quickly vs hiring someone.

Carla: If you are unable to get a good look inside your chimney, I've had some luck taping a camera (or cellphone) to a stick and setting it to "video mode" to get a peak inside. YMMV.

 
gardener
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My wife has had a woodstove in her house for decades, providing all the heat for the winter in upstate NY. She has a short flue going out and then about 12' up with insulated stainless pipe, and she (and now her daughter who occupies that part) cleans it from the ground with a flexible fiberglass rod and brush every few weeks at most, so the creosote doesn't build up dangerously.

I am working on them to let me build a couple of rocket mass heaters for upstairs and downstairs so they can stay warm without polluting, burning several cords of wood every winter, and having to frequently clean the chimney.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Pete,

I made the purchase.   Thanks for the idea.
gift
 
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