How to Clean a Chimney Flue

A man on a roof.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 75-175

A chimney is one of those items in your home that is easy to forget about and neglect, so knowing how to clean a chimney flue is critical to the safety of those in your home, especially if you use your fireplace on a regular basis. Chimney cleaning and maintenance is vital. Over a period of time, with ongoing use of your fireplace, creosote and soot can build up in your chimney.

This build-up can become flammable and can create a fire hazard in your home. Regular maintenance also includes removing any debris, birds nests, etc., that may have accumulated in your flue. Whether it’s creosote, soot or some other type of debris in your chimney, any of this debris can cause a problem, as it could impede the escape of smoke from your fireplace. This impediment could create a fire hazard, a buildup of carbon monoxide, or excessive smoke levels in your home.

You should have your chimney inspected twice a month if you are using your fireplace on a regular basis. These frequent inspections could be very expensive if you are hiring a chimney sweep to do this for you. But doing it yourself is totally possible, particularly in-between chimney sweep visits.

Step 1 - Examine the Chimney for Debris

With a powerful flashlight examine your chimney flue for any debris that might have collected. This could include leaves, a bird’s nest, paper, etc. Remove the debris.

Step 2 - Seal off the Fireplace

Before you begin cleaning the chimney, you will want to seal off your fireplace or wood stove so none of the soot will get into your house. You should also cover furniture near your fireplace to protect it from soot or residue that may escape from the chimney and enter your home during the cleaning.

Step 3 - Fasten the Chimney Brush to the Rod

Secure a flexible rod that is long enough to reach the entire length of your chimney. It is often difficult to find a rod this long. If you cannot find a long enough rod, connect several rods together. Fasten the chimney brush securely to the rod and lower it slowly into the chimney.

Step 4 - Raise the Rod

Once the rod has been lowered into your chimney, you then should raise it slowly through the chimney.

Step 5 - Repeat the Rod Cleaning

Repeat the process of lowering and raising the rod several times.

Step 6 - Examine the Chimney Flue

Now, with a flashlight that has a powerful beam and lights the area well enough for you to see inside the chimney, examine the flue for any debris that might have been overlooked.

Step 7 - Vacuum Fireplace Area

Once you have completed the cleaning of your chimney, vacuum and dust the area around your fireplace to remove any soot or other residues that may have collected during the chimney flue cleaning.