How To Clean A Wood Stove Chimney From The Bottom-Up

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Keeping the chimney clean is not something that every homeowner considers. It might seem like a pain but keeping your chimney clean not only results in a cleaner, more sanitary chimney, it will also help to keep your home safer as well.

The bottom-up method is similar to the top-down method, the only difference is that it is quite a bit safer. Follow our step-by-step guide to the bottom-up method and you will be able to keep your chimney clean and clear of debris without the hassle of climbing onto the roof.

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Picking the Right Chimney Brush

Before you begin, it is important to have all of the proper tools available so that you can clean your chimney efficiently. There are a ton of different chimney brushes out there, so you’ll have to measure the inner dimensions of your chimney before you clean it.

A poly bristled brush is generally the best one to go with. Wire chimney brushes can actually groove out the inner wall, so you want to make sure that you have something sturdy that can get the soot and grime off the walls without gouging them.

Picking the Right Rod

You have three different types of chimney rod to choose from: nylon, fiberglass, and polypropylene. You’ll want a rod for chimneys that don’t have any weird angles to them. Nylon is flexible, making it a favorite option for chimney cleaners.

Polypropylene is pretty flexible and can get through offsets, breaches, sharp bends and thimbles. Find whatever you find most comfortable that will give you some flexibility but still have the strength to hold up to heavy wear and tear.

Step 1: Protect the Room

Before you begin, it is important that you protect the furniture and flooring in the room where the chimney is located. Chimney cleaning can get very messy and the soot can be difficult to get out of most fabrics.

Use drop cloths to cover the flooring and the furniture before you begin. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but you will be grateful when you don’t have to worry about soot and how to get it out of your couch or living room flooring.

Step 2: Safety Up

Cleaning soot out of the chimney is not like wiping down the surfaces of your home. Breathing it in can be dangerous and you definitely do not want to get it in your eyes. That is why it is smart to have both protective breathing and eyewear equipment. Gloves are also a good idea for keeping soot off of your hands.

Besides, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you think that getting dirty is the worst thing that you have to contend with, wearing the proper safety gear will keep you protected from anything that the chimney will offer.

Step 3: First Piece of Pipe

You’re not going to put together the entirety of your cleaning brush here. Start by putting the first piece of your pipe together with the brush. When you’re ready to go, insert the brush through the firebox in your chimney.

Push and pull the rod and brush, scrubbing the flue until you don’t see soot coming out anymore. Depending on how long it has been, you may need to do this for a while before you are ready to move on to the next section.

Step 4: Keep Adding

The farther up the chimney that you go, the more pieces of chimney rod you’ll need to add. Attach a second piece and move further up the chimney, using the same back and forth brushing action that you used in the previous step.

Keep adding sections and scrubbing until you have gotten the entirety of the flue completely cleaned. If you no longer see soot falling down from the heights of the chimney, you can feel pretty confident that the chimney is as clean as it can be without professional intervention.

Step 5: Cleanup

With the chimney clean, it is now time to clean up. Pull your rod and brush back down out of the chimney carefully. You can then begin to disassemble the rods; it’s best to do it as you are pulling them out of the chimney.

Any debris that has fallen down into the firebox can be picked up easily using just a broom and dustpan. If you have an ash vacuum, use that to clean up any soot or ash that may have fallen down into the firebox as well.

Lastly, you can get rid of the debris and fold up your drop cloths for later use if they haven’t been soiled too badly.

What Will Remove Creosote?

Depending on how long it has been since you lasted cleaned the chimney, there could be a buildup of creosote throughout. Deposits of creosote in your fireplace or chimney over time can lead to an increased risk of fire, so it is important to clean them out.

You can use powder, liquid, or sprays specifically manufactured to mitigate creosote development. They can be applied directly to the wood in your fireplace or onto a fire in order to break that creosote down into ash. The ash is then simply swept up using your chimney sweep brush.

Do Chimney Cleaning Logs Work?

Yes, they do work but not necessarily in the way that you may think. Not only that, but they also don’t completely work as you would expect them to. Chimney cleaning logs have a chemical catalyst within them that reduces the early stages of creosote buildup as much as 60% through repeated use.

Chimney cleaning logs will not work, however, if you already have noticeable deposits of creosote throughout your fireplace. You’ll need to clean those deposits out first and then use the chimney cleaning logs going forward to limit the production of creosote.

What’s the Best Way to Prevent Creosote Buildup?

The vast majority of homeowners will let a fire continue to burn until it smolders and eventually burns itself out. This is how creosote develops. When the fire starts to burn out, the lower temperatures create more creosote.

The best thing that you can do to prevent creosote is to extinguish fires instead of simply letting them die off. If you’re done with the fire for the night, don’t just let it continue to burn down. Put it out before bed and you can help prevent the buildup of creosote over time.

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How to Tell if My Chimney Needs Cleaning

There are a couple of telltale signs that your chimney is in need of a good cleaning. If you notice that there are burned wood odors coming from your fireplace even when it isn’t in use, that’s a good sign it needs cleaning.

If the fires that you do burn don’t seem to be burning strongly or are simply pumping out a lot of smoke, clean your chimney. Lastly, you will notice a black damper. The damper sits right above the firebox and is generally the easiest thing to not only see but reach as well.

Should you notice any of these signs, get to cleaning your fireplace and chimney sooner rather than later. It will only be more difficult to clean later and could lead to the buildup of creosote.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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