Chimney Brush Loaner Program

Dreaming of snuggling up to a cozy fire from your wood stove?  The last thing you have probably thought about is getting on the roof and checking out the condition of your chimney.  However, if you don’t give it some thought before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may be very short-lived. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney/flue fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and can injure or kill people.

What is a chimney fire and how does it happen?

Chimney fires happen when products of incomplete combustion (soot) build up in a chimney for a fireplace or wood stove.  The build-up is called creosote.  Creosote is usually black or dark brown and is readily combustible.  When creosote burns in a chimney it can be explosive.  Often you will see flames shooting out of the top of the chimney. Creosote can also burn slowly with no exterior visible flame and put out tremendous heat.  Either form of chimney fire can spread to structural members of the house through loose mortar or by the warping of metal chimneys or just from the extreme heat radiating from the fire in a metal chimney.

 

Does my Chimney needs to be cleaned?

Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year, and more often if you use your fireplace frequently.  If you only clean your chimney once a year, do it in the fall, before the burning season begins. Otherwise, you risk sparking a chimney fire the first time you light up your fireplace in the winter

 

Check the chimney for animals. If it has been awhile since the last time you used your chimney, check for critters before you begin cleaning. Birds, squirrels and raccoons like to nest there, especially in the cooler months. Shine a flashlight up the chimney from the fireplace, and if you find an animal, take steps to have it removed

 

Take a flashlight and peer inside the chimney flue. Use a pencil or plastic knife to scrape off a bit of the creosote that has accumulated on the side of the chimney. If it's 1/8-inch thick or thicker, it's time for a cleaning.

 

Measure your chimney flue

To clean your chimney, you'll have to use properly-sized tools.

  • Measure the sides of your chimney from the bottom, through the fireplace. You could also climb up a ladder and measure it from the top.

  • Determine the size and shape of the flue. It will be either square or round, 6" or 8."

  • Determine the height of the chimney. If you're guessing, it's better to overestimate, so you have more than enough extra rope or piping to make sure the chimney brush can reach the entire length of the chimney.

 

Buy chimney cleaning supplies. Go to the hardware store and buy the following items in preparation for cleaning the chimney:

  • A chimney brush, either wire or plastic. Use your chimney's measurements to buy the right size

  • Chimney brush extension pipes, to help you clean the whole length of the chimney. Alternatively, you could buy a weighted rope designed to be used with the chimney brush, or a rope pulley system.

  • A smaller stiff wire brush.

  • A plastic tarp or drop cloth for use inside your house.

  • A ladder tall enough to reach your roof, if you plan to clean your chimney from the top down.

  • A broom and dustpan.

  • A dust mask and goggles.

  • Dress in appropriate clothing. Wear old clothes that you don't mind getting messy with soot. Cover your hair with a bandanna. You may want to wear work gloves to protect your hands. Use a dust mask and goggles to prevent soot from getting in your mouth and eyes.

  • Remove the damper from the chimney flue. Locate the damper handle inside your chimney, and use the small wire brush to clean it off. Detach it from the chimney and set it aside on the drop cloth, so it won't obstruct the chimney brush as you proceed with cleaning the chimney.

 

For any further questions, please contact Lane Fire Authority at (541) 935-2226.