How to Clean a Wood Stove Chimney

a wood stove with wood beneath it
What You'll Need
Chimney brush
Medium-sized fan
What You'll Need
Chimney brush
Medium-sized fan

A wood stove can create an ambiance of warmth and coziness on a cold winter night, but a neglected wood stove chimney can create a potential disaster for you and your family. Because of the creosote and soot that builds up in your chimney over time, a chimney that is not cleaned regularly could be the source of a fire hazard. In order to prevent such a disaster, follow the steps below.

Step 1 - Plan to Clean and Inspect

You should clean your wood burning stove chimney at least once a year, and inspect it at least once each month.

Step 2 - Check your Stove’s Temperature

a wood stove next to a bed

Examine your chimney to see if there is any visible smoke. Visible smoke is a sign that the wood stove is running too cold or that the chimney may not have been installed properly. Creosote can only be produced when the wood smoke condenses on the inside of a cool chimney. If your stove is burning properly, all the smoke should burn in the firebox. Check your manufacturer’s instructions to determine at what temperature your wood burning stove model should burn. So that you can insure that your stove burns properly and creates a minimum amount of creosote, place a thermometer on the stove, allowing you to determine that your stove is burning at its optimum temperature range.

Step 3 - Check Your Chimney’s Dimensions

Just as a car engine powers a car, the chimney of a wood stove powers a stove. A chimney that is too short or is the wrong diameter will not regulate heat or draft as it should. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the right chimney fit, especially if you are having problems with draft, smoke, and excess creosote.

Step 4 - Remove Cast Iron Baffle

On top of your wood stove you will typically find a cast iron baffle. Remove the baffle and clean out any ash that may have accumulated. Of course, this should be done when the stove is cool. Clean your stove thoroughly and remove any accumulated ash. Place a fan (medium-sized) in front of your stove and turn the fan on. The purpose of the fan is to create an updraft in the chimney.

Step 5 - Remove Chimney Cap

Go to your roof and remove the cap from the chimney. You should be able to remove the cap by turning it counter clockwise, then lifting it up.

Step 6 - Clean with Chimney Brush

man cleaning a chimney

Using a 6-inch chimney brush. Brush up and down your chimney several times until there are no more clouds of soot being produced by the brushing action. If your fan (mentioned in Step 4) is running, it will create an updraft that will blow the soot up and out of your chimney.

Step 7 - Remove Stove Connector Pipe

Remove the stove connector pipe and take it to an area of your home where you can clean it with the same brush you used to clean the chimney.

Step 8 - Put Everything Back in Place

Once you have everything cleaned, put your cap, connector pipe, and the cast iron baffle all back in place.