You should always hire a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® to perform annual services on your fireplace. But what do you do in between those regular services?
Some of the reasons to hire a professional: Chimney-cleaning is a obviously a very dirty job, but it’s also a dangerous one! There is great value in hiring a qualified and skilled Chimney Sweep who possesses the proper training and experience, and who uses state-of-the-art tools to ensure this work is done properly. You can avoid the risk of injury or illness (the nasty stuff you can breathe in is no joke!) by contacting Chimney Champions® today!
At Chimney Champions®, we want you to always put safety first. THESE ‘DO-IT-YOURSELF’ TIPS SHOULD NEVER BE USED IN PLACE OF PROFESSIONAL SWEEPS, BUT ARE RATHER TO BE USED AS HELPFUL INFORMATION TO REFERENCE FOR IN BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL CLEANINGS. If you are going to perform supplemental cleanings to your fireplace yourself, please make sure you are taking the proper precautions to keep your home and yourself safe. Do not attempt to clean your fireplace yourself if you have never had it professionally inspected and determined to be safe for use.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, every fireplace should be professionally cleaned at least once annually. The ideal times to do this are right before you begin using your fireplace, and – if possible – again after you are through using it for the season. WHY SO FREQUENTLY?… More work now means less work later. If you don’t regularly maintain your system, you are inviting the potential for layers upon layers of buildup, which will only harden and become even more difficult to remove the longer they are left to collect.
If your flue has a bend in it, you will want to leave this to the professionals, with professional equipment. If you have a straight chimney and you plan to clean it yourself, know that you will need to go onto your roof to measure your chimney opening. IMPORTANT: If you notice that you have a damaged or missing chimney cap or cover, ⊗ STOP!! ⊗ If this is the case, it is strongly advised that you contact a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® to perform an inspection and determine whether or not your system is safe for use!
Once you have measured your chimney opening, and assuming there has been no damage observed, you will need to pick up the proper size & shape chimney brush from your local hardware store. Dimensions of the brush should be either equal to the dimensions of your flue, or approximately 1/4″ larger than the flue dimensions.
You will also need rods to attach the brush to. For straight chimneys, you can use fiberglass rods. Make sure the brush and the rods have the same connection type!
To determine how much length you will need for your rods, first close your damper. Then, from your roof, lower a rope down into your chimney until it hits your damper. Then you can measure the length of rope to figure out how many rods you will need to purchase.
You will also need to lay down drop cloths in front of your fireplace and possibly over your furniture to help prevent making a mess.
We also recommend wearing a mask to protect yourself from possible animal droppings and other hazardous debris that you don’t want to be breathing in.
Next, you will need to open your damper. Wearing gloves, connect ONE rod to the chimney brush. (It’s easiest to begin with only one rod attached to the brush at first, and then connect one additional rod at a time after you have pushed the brush through the damper, and as you are going up through the fireplace.) **IMPORTANT: If you have a loose or damaged damper, you will not want to clean the fireplace yourself, as you will run the risk of causing further damage to it.
To clean, scrape upwards and downwards as you are going up through your chimney with the brush (think of it as scrubbing the inside of a baby bottle). This takes some elbow grease, but just continue doing this as far up as you can go.
If you have an ash vacuum, clear out the debris from on top of your smoke shelf, as well as from the bottom of your fireplace. If you don’t have an ash bucket, use a standard fireplace shovel and broom, and scrape everything up and empty it into a bucket.
Whew!!… When you see just how involved this process is, it’s no surprise that most people choose to leave it to the professionals! Call Chimney Champions® today at (904) 268-8211, and let us take this daunting task off your plate!