3 Different Types of Chimney Brushes Explained

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Chimney brushes are important tools when it comes to cleaning the flues of our fireplaces or woodstoves. For the proper maintenance and operation of the latter, it is crucial that you use a brush of suitable material, shape, and size. In this presentation, you will find out the basic types of chimney brushes available online and in local homeowner stores.

1. Chimney Brushes by Material

Depending on their material, chimney brushes are either metal wire or polypropylene (poly). When choosing a brush, base your decision on the type of chimney you have at home. If yours is a traditional masonry chimney, then a metal wire brush should be the ideal instrument to scrub off creosote and soot buildups from the flue (the thorough removal of accumulated creosote is particularly important since, being a highly flammable substance, it can cause chimney fire). Metal wire brushes, on the other hand, are not suitable for chimney liners or chimneys with metal plating. These brushes can be either of the traditional type (appropriate for the majority of cases) or have a flat wire bristle, which is harder than normal bristle and should be used for particularly persistent glaze creosote stains.

Poly brushes are designed for liner or metal-coated chimneys, for prefabricated chimneys or masonry chimneys which have become fragile with age. Regular poly brushes are inflexible and will not go around the curves of your chimney. Prefab poly brushes are a little less rigid and will be of better service to you if you have a chimney with many bends.

2. Chimney Brushes by Size and Shape

Chimney brushes can be circular (the most common type), rectangular, square or oval in shape. Standard chimney brushes are available in sizes from 5 to 12 inches, but some manufacturers offer custom-made brushes, too. Before you purchase a brush, make sure its shape resembles that of the flue and that the brush is not more than 0.5 inches wider than the flue diameter. Too large a brush will hamper proper cleaning, while a too-small one will not be effective enough in removing the accumulated creosote. Ideally, the chimney brush and the flue will have equal or similar diameters.

3. Chimney Brush Accessories

When shopping for a brush, you should also buy a brush rod which will help you reach the whole length of your chimney. Brush rods are sold in sizes from 2 ½ to 5 feet and, depending on the material, can be highly bendable or fairly stiff. Take into account the length and number of curves of your chimney when you purchase a brush rod.

Currently, there are also small and large hand brushes available on the market. A small hand brush, for example, can be particularly handy when it comes to cleaning the corners of the flue, while a larger hand brush can assist you in sweeping the firebox clean.

Also, if your chimney is particularly dirty, you may want to invest in a chemical cleaning spray, which will help you remove the dangerous creosote from the chimney flue.