Chimney Cleaning And Installation

(Last Updated On: February 22, 2017)
DIY method for chimney cleaning
Chimney cleaning method

Burning fire in your chimney can lead to the collection of creosote and soot which are flammable and sticky substances which can lead to chimney fires if they are not removed timely. This makes the job of chimney cleaning very much essential. You can go for hiring chimney cleaning services but it can be too much costly. If you can use your chimney yourself then why can’t you consider chimney cleaning yourself. Chimney cleaning is not that difficult. You just need to go to a hardware store and grab some chimney cleaning tools and chimney cleaning equipment’s. Also grab a chimney cleaning brush. There are specific chimney cleaning solutions and chimney cleaning products available in the market, consider using them for better results. You can try chimney cleaning yourself only if you are a handy person, if you are not comfortable doing it then don’t risk your safety instead go for hiring some professional. If you are considering hiring a chimney cleaning service then make some research about the chimney cleaning cost. Ask the estimate of chimney cleaning cost from two to three professionals and don’t just rely on one. Make some research from your side and then opt for the one you find reliable. Here is a step wise method for chimney cleaning, if you want to opt for doing it yourself.

Chimney cleaning process

  • Decide whether the chimney cleaning is needed or not

Chimney cleaning should be done at least once in a year and more than that if you are using your chimney on frequent base. Use a flash light and peep inside the chimney flute. Make use of a plastic knife or a pencil to scrap a bit of the creosote which has got accumulated on the side of the chimney. If the thickness is 1/8 inch then it’s the time for chimney cleaning. If you do your chimney cleaning only once in a year then you must consider doing it in fall season, before the burning season begins. If you do so, you will risk sparking the chimney fire for the first time when you light your fireplace in winter.

  • Check your chimney for animals

check chimney for animals
Checking chimney for animals

If it has been a long time since you used your chimney and then you are now going for chimney cleaning, then you must check out for the critters. Chimney is the best place for squirrels, birds and raccoons to build their nest that too in the cold months. Before you initiate chimney cleaning, you must light a flashlight in the chimney from the fireplace and check for any of the animals. If you find any, you must take steps and remove them instantly.

  • Measure your chimney flue

For doing chimney cleaning, you have to use adequately sized chimney cleaning tools. Take measurement of the size of the chimney from the bottom from the fireplace. The alternate way of measuring the fireplace is to take a ladder, climb on it and measure it from the top. Decide the size and shape of the flue. It will be either round or square. Also decide the height of the chimney before chimney cleaning. If you are having any rough guess then it is better to overestimate. This is because you will have more extra rope or piping for ensuring that the chimney brush will reach the entire length of the chimney while chimney cleaning.

  • Purchase chimney cleaning supplies

Go to the hardware store and buy the items for chimney cleaning preparation. Take a chimney cleaning brush which can be of either plastic or wire. Make use of your chimney cleaning measurements for purchasing of the right size. Also take the chimney cleaning brush extension pipes which can help you to clean the whole length of the chimney. Alternatively you can also purchase a weighted rope which is designed for using with chimney cleaning brush or even a rope pulley system. Also take a small stiff wire brush for better chimney cleaning. Also take a plastic tarp or any damp cloth for use in your home. Also take a ladder which is heighted enough to reach the roof of your home, if you are considering chimney cleaning from the top down. Also take a broom, dustpan, goggles and dust mask.

  • Dress up in appropriate clothing

Make sure you wear the old clothes while doing chimney cleaning which you don’t mind throwing away. Cover your hairs with bandanna. Also put on the work gloves for protecting your hands. Make use of dust mask and also goggles to avoid the soot getting in your eyes and mouth.

  • Prepare your home for cleaning

Drape drop cloth or even tarp around the fireplace extending it into your living room for several feet. Use tarps or sheets for covering furniture with light fabric. Don’t forget to roll back your costly rugs.

  • Remove damper from chimney flue

Find the damper handle which is inside your chimney and make use of small chimney cleaning wire brush for cleaning it. Detach it from your chimney and keep it aside on the drop cloth. This will not obstruct the chimney cleaning brush as you proceed with the process.

  • Set the ladder and climb on the roof

Assuming that your roof is safe to stand on and you are also comfortable doing so set up your ladder next to your home. Fill the satchel with the chimney cleaning brush and extensions, sling that over your shoulder and then climb the ladder. If you are not comfortable climbing the ladder or standing on the roof while chimney cleaning, and then better do it from the bottom instead of climbing. If you are not very much sure about the quality of the roof or if you are having a slanted roof and you are not much sure that you will be able to keep your balance then use other method of chimney cleaning from the bottom instead of top.

  • Assemble chimney cleaning brush and one section of pipe

Joint the first piece of pipe with the chimney cleaning brush. Then insert the brush into chimney. Use up and down motions and start to scrub the flue clean. Add another section of the pipe so that it can enable you for extending the brush further down to the chimney. Continue doing this in same manner tile you clean the length of the flue. If you are using this method of rope and weight, then you need to attach weight rope to the brush. Hold on the end of the rope along with the lower brush into the chimney. Lift that up and down in a scrubbing way along the total length of the flue. Disassemble the extensions and brush or detach the rope. Put the supplies in the satchel and climb down the ladder. After that, clean the bottom part of the chimney by using small wire brush. Clean those parts of the chimney which you have missed with the long brush.

  • Clean chimney from the bottom up

Join the brush and one of the sections of the pipe. Join the very first piece of the pipe to your brush. Insert brush inside the chimney through fireplace. Use up and down methods and start to scrub the flue very much clean. After that, add another section of the pipe which will enable you to extend brush further upside of the chimney. Continue doing in the same pattern till you have cleaned the length of the flue.

  • Use pulley system with partner

Purchase a pulley rope system which is to be used with your chimney cleaning brush. Two ropes are joined with the brush, one on the top and another on the bottom and the brush is operated both the fireplace and the roof. Assemble the brush and the pulley system with each other. Have one person with you who can take the ladder up the roof. The person on the roof must hold one side of the rope and drop down the other side with brush in the center with the flue to the other person waiting below. Work together and use the rope for pulling the brush up and down scrubbing the whole chimney flue.

  • Clean entrance of the flue

At the extreme bottom of the chimney which is generally located in the basement, you must find a small door which is going in the area under the flue. The soot and the creosote would have been accumulated there make use of a small spade so that you can shovel it into the bucket. After that, attach the handle again.

  • Clean debris from fireplace

Make use of dustpan and brush for cleaning up the debris from the fireplace. Empty those things into a waste bucket. Dispose all the creosote and soot according to the local laws. As creosote is a flammable thing, it cannot be thrown into the trash. Keep this thing in mind when you throw it.

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Important points

  • You can use a shop vacuum for cleaning up dust and debris.
  • Ensure that there are no animals in your chimney; you don’t want to see a burnt animal in your home.
  • Either wear a scarf or put on a cloth for covering your nose so that dust will not harm you and also wear the glasses so that you can protect the eyes from direct contact from the dust particles.


  • Make sure you don’t breathe in creosote or soot and wash yourself immediately after any contact with it.
  • Don’t make any effort to stand on the roof during wet or icy conditions.
  • Make sure to not to operate open flame nearby the chimney during the cleaning process.
  • Make sure to clean a professional if you don’t feel comfortable in any of the part of the chimney cleaning process.
chimney cleaning tools
Tools for chimney cleaning

Things you will need

  • Shop vacuum
  • Dust mask and goggles
  • Old clothes
  • Broom
  • Dust pan
  • Ladder
  • Plastic tarp
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Chimney cleaning brush
  • Chimney brush extension pipes
  • Pulley system
  • Weighted rope

Here you are done with the chimney cleaning process. This is a do-it-yourself process and can be done without involving the help of professional. In the same manner chimney installation is also a DIY process only. If you are considering installing a chimney in your home and want to save some bucks then you can learn the DIY chimney installation process and try it out yourself.

Chimney installation process

  • Consult the local construction code when designing chimney

Tips of installing chimney
Ways of installing chimney

Each community has their own codes for building chimney. Majority of the codes are based on the national fire protection agency standard. One of the basic requirement of this standard is that it should be minimum three feet taller than highest point and 2 feet taller any of the portion of the building or any of the adjacent building within 10 feet of the chimney. If you keep the chimney taller than its drafts would be better. Chimney also requires minimum 2 inch of clearance from combustible materials if it is built through the walls of the house and it also needs a one inch clearance if chimney is built alongside the house.

  • Decide what will be the materials of the chimney

The extremely common materials for chimney are masonry and brick but pre-fabricated metal chimneys are also widely prevalent. If you are building a masonry or brick chimney then you need to determine what the size of the chimney will be. This will give you an estimate about the how many bricks you need to order for making the chimney. If you are installing a prefab metal chimney then you have to measure the distance from the stove or other appliances to those locations where existing home is. Masonry chimneys need to have walls which are at least 4 inches thick standard chimney bricks will generally come in this thickness.

  • Know what waste products you chimney is going to emit

This will decide whether you8r chimney is able to vent multiple appliances or it will be able to vent only one. It can be possible that chimneys can be built with many appliances and can be connected to the main discharge flue which is sized to handle the combined output wherein one would be for gas furnace. But here wood burning fireplace cannot be installed. Flues cannot be changed in shape or size; it should be within 6 inches below or above the ceiling, floor or roof made of combustible materials.

  • Decide the width of the chimney flue

This is usually decided by what type of appliances your chimney is built to vent. Metal chimneys are generally round flue pipes whereas masonry chimneys generally have square or rectangular flues. Every single type has different diameter needs depending upon what they are venting. Consult with the local and national fire code for deciding the diameter you must use. Masonry chimneys are usually lined with a ceramic or clay tile flue that goes up at the center of the brick chimney along with a gap between inside flue and the outside brick. This is to enable the clay or ceramic flue to contract and expand without moving the brick. Stainless steel pipes or concrete can also be used in certain cases depending upon the design of the chimney to vent. Look at the local building code for determining the flue size which is needed for the appliances you are venting. These will be different so make sure you find your specific need.

  • Buy all the chimney installation supplies

This will be different depending upon the location of your chimney and the type of chimney to be installed. Before you start up with the project of chimney installation, make sure you are available with all the supplies. When you are installing a metal chimney, you will need flashing, chimney cap, chimney box, chimney roof braces and prefab chimney sections. When passing through ceiling or a wall, you must use a section of chimney which is rated as a wall pass through. By doing so, there will no risk of your wall or roof catching the fire. When you are building a masonry chimney, you will be needed to buy masonry and brick along with mortar, flashing, a cap, support pieces and special masonry tools.

  • Build the smoke chamber

smoke-chamber of chimney
Building smoke chamber

You will be needing to build your chimney from the ground to the upside level. If going for a masonry chimney, this generally means you will be building up your chimney right from the top of the fireplace by using the brick which is similar to that of which is used to build the hearth. You will need to combine mortar mix with water and make it consistent to the level of thick peanut butter. Once it gets the right consistency, you will have to use a masons trowel for loading mortar onto each of the brick so that it oozes the joints a bit which will guarantee the whole area between the bricks. When you build up the walls of the chimney with bricks, make sure that you level it properly. Pick up a level and check all the walls are properly leveled on their horizontal and vertical planes. Also see that each and every line of brick is parallel to that of other. In case of prefabricated metal fireplace, the smoke chamber is usually indistinguishable from the other parts of the chimney. The chimney must be built on a very much solid base. If you are not installing it on an existing base or fireplace, there might be a need to pour reinforced concrete pad for chimney on which it can be built. Don’t forget to consult the local code to decide if it is needed and what are the specifications for it to be built.

  • Built flue and outside of the chimney

The flue generally connects the top part of the smoke chamber for the roof through the middle of the chimney. It might be either made of brick or of the metal pipe. If ceramic tiles or clay are used for creating the flue into a brick chimney, they are laid into the exterior of the chimney. Metal liners can be dropped into the place whereas concrete liners are cast in their place by pouring the concrete the rough a flexible hose.

  • Cap the chimney

chimney cap for chimney
Covering chimney with chimney cap

Chimney cap generally goes over the top of brick flue housing. It must extend past of the chimney wall by minimum 2 inches and also have drip edge for channeling the water away from the chimney. Materials suitable for chimney cap can be stone or concrete. They are best suited for the job. Chimney cap is very much important because it will lessen the amount of moisture which can get down your chimney and keep the animals out.

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Chimney is great attachment to your home specifically if you are having cold weather. You can go for DIY method for installation of chimney and also for cleaning it and making it last long.


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