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If you’re a homeowner, there are many DIY cleaning and home improvement projects you’ve probably tried yourself. Have you ever attempted to clean your chimney? Maybe it always seemed like a project that was better left to the professionals. Or, maybe you just didn’t know how.Chimney cleaning requires some research and skill, but if you’re determined to do it yourself, you can certainly learn the basics with a little help.
Why Is Chimney Cleaning Important?
You may not know it, but there is a substance inside the chimney called creosote. It is the residue that occurs when you burn a fire in the fireplace, and as smoke travels upward, creosote is left behind. If your chimney has not been cleaned in a long time, there is almost certainly quite a bit of creosote in it now.Creosote in its early stages can be brushed away fairly easily, but once it has built up in the chimney over time, it becomes dangerous. If you are exposed to creosote, you may experience a reaction that requires medical attention.More than that, it is a fire hazard. Creosote is extremely flammable, so high deposits of it can cause chimney fires. Cleaning your chimney regularly is the only way to prevent something like this from happening in your home. Luckily, there are steps you can take to make the chimney cleaning process easy and efficient.
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A chimney sweeping log is a product that dries out creosote to reduce buildup. It works like a regular fireplace log, so you can use it to start a fire like you normally would. When it comes to chimney cleaning, it really doesn’t get much easier than this.However, the chimney sweeping log is not a substitute for regular cleaning. It will help to reduce creosote, but you still need to make sure that you are taking necessary measures to keep the chimney clean as the log cannot reverse years of buildup.
2. Don’t Forget About The Doors
Many fireplaces have glass doors. Though cleaning of the chimney itself is extremely important, remember to clean the glass as well.This chimney cleaning tip is simple. All you really need is regular glass cleaner or vinegar and a brush or sponge. Then, clean the glass doors the same way you would clean windows or a mirror.
3.Test The Chimney For Leaks
Even if the chimney is clean, you want to make sure it is also in proper working order. To do this, you will need to start a fire in the fireplace, making sure that it is causing smoke. Then, get on the roof and cover the chimney with heavy, wet cloth.You may start to see smoke emerging from another spot on the chimney. If this happens, that spot is a leak, and you should mark it with chalk so you can repair it. There are many different products available at hardware stores to help you fill in the mortar where the chimney is leaking.
4. Clean The Chimney Often
Chimney cleaning is not the most glamorous task, but you will need to do it at least once a year, especially if you use the fireplace often. This will prevent creosote from building up and making the fireplace much more difficult to clean.Once you have the hang of it, it will not take as long to clean. However, the first time you clean the chimney, take note of any issues and make sure you are addressing them correctly before you move on. Otherwise, a bigger problem could await you next time.
5. Use Protective Gear
Getting any sort of chimney soot in your eyes can be very painful and dangerous, so make sure that you have a good pair of goggles. They will need to form a protective seal around your eyes, so regular safety glasses won’t cut it. The goggles must prevent anything from getting in your eyes.To avoid breathing in anything toxic, you will also need a dust mask. Chimney cleaning can be hazardous to your health without the proper precautions, so this is especially important.Be careful on the roof as well. Make sure you are comfortable working there, and don’t do anything on the roof if you haven’t been up there before. Even if you are confident that you will be safe, you should consider a safety harness. These are used by even the most seasoned professionals.
6. Find The Right Brushes
In order to determine what brush sizes you will need, you need to first measure the flue liner. You will have to measure it from on top of your roof. Find the dimensions of the inside of the chimney.There are many different kinds of brushes to choose from, and the bristles vary in material from wire to plastic. Each brush will also need to attach to a rod in order to reach into the chimney. You will need different brushes for the smoke chamber and the firebox as well. Professionals at your local home improvement store will be able to help you choose thecorrect brushes for the chimney size and material.You might also be able to construct your own https://www.ehow.com/how_7908336_make–homemade–chimney–brush.html“>DIY chimney brush. If you’d prefer not to spend a lot of money, this may be a good option. However, if you have more than a little creosote in yourchimney, it will be much safer and more effective to buy regular brushes. The DIY chimney brush project could be saved for when you only need to do a light cleaning.
7. Check Your Work With A Flashlight
Once you have brushed the chimney flue, you should use a flashlight to check for any missed spots inside the chimney. You don’t want to have to go back and do anything again.When you are sure that you have thoroughly cleaned the section of the chimney, you can move on to the next one, examining the inside of the chimney as you work. If possible, you may want to have someone else check as well, just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
8. Don’t Ruin Your Home’s Interior
Before you do anything with the chimney, you need to protect the inside of your home. Lay down a canvas tarp large enough to cover a substantial area of the floor and the base of the fireplace. You should also place a plastic sheet over the fireplace opening, if it is an open fireplace without doors.In order to prevent soot from getting into the home, use a shop vacuum to suction it away. These vacuums have a longer hosethan a regular vacuum, so you can place the motor outside. If the hose is not long enough, you can get extra lengths of vacuum hose. Either way, you want to make sure that the dirt from your fireplace does not make its way back into your home.You can also prevent soot from getting in your home by making sure that doors and windows stay closed, so a gust of wind does not scatter soot everywhere. Also, turn off any ceiling fans, as these will have the same effect. You don’t want to ruin all of your hard work by getting dirt and ash inside your home, as cleaning this will be an even larger task.
9. Know When To Hire A Professional
There are some instances in which you will need to hire a professional to clean your chimney. If you are unable to reach the smoke chamber/smoke shelf, you will need to hire a cleaning service. They will have the necessary equipment and training to clean that part of the chimney.If your roof is very steep, it is probably not a good idea for you to clean the chimney yourself, because you will not have easy access to the chimney crown. If you aren’t confident that the roof is safe, you should not be cleaning the chimney yourself.Also, if the creosote buildup in the chimney is very heavy or has not been cleaned in a very long time, you should hire a certified chimney sweep. This can be too big a job for even the most determined DIY handyman.Remember, there’s no shame in hiring a professional to take care of the chimney. Advanced chimney cleaning requires certification and a lot of experience, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you feel more comfortable getting a professional’s opinion, have them do an inspection before you try cleaning on your own.
Chimney Cleaning Doesn’t Have To BeDifficult
If you have the right equipment, you’ve done your research, and you’re ambitious, you can clean your chimney with little difficulty. However, it’s always good to know thathiring a professional chimney cleaning service is an option. When you find a company you trust, they can handle any issues outside of the basics and give you the resources to continue cleaning your chimney on your own.