The regular cleaning of a chimney is very important to keep the chimney efficient and safe from fire hazards, according to NorthlineExpress.com. Signs that a chimney needs cleaning include burnt wood odours coming from a fireplace that is not in use and poorly burning fires, according to FamilyEducation.com. During a chimney cleaning, it's important that eye protection, gloves and dust masks are used.
A chimney brush is used to keep the chimney flue free from debris. The chimney flue is the hollow portion of the chimney that allows smoke to pass, according to Encyclopedia.com. The flue begins with the funnel, tube or cavity leading up from the fireplace. The most common types of flue brushes are made of oil tempered steel, stainless steel and propylene plastic, according to Chimney-Liner-Central.com. In addition, brushes come in round, oval, square and rectangular shapes, with the round and square the most commonly used.
Wire bristle chimney brushes are popular, but the stiffer flat wire bristle chimney brushes are especially helpful for scraping, especially when dealing with glaze creosote. Creosote looks like tar and basically is wood tar that has become baked onto the walls of the chimney or flue lining, according to Safe Side Chimney & Duct Cleaning. The softer polypropylene chimney brushes are good for metal chimneys. Hand brushes also are used to clean ash and soot from different parts of the chimney, such as the smoke chamber, chimney caps and connectors. Stiff scrubbing brushes additionally are used on the walls of the fireplace, according to Tips.Net.
Sweeping rods are used along with chimney brushes to help clear the chimney flue. A variety of rods are available, including polypropylene rods, fibreglass rods and rattan rods. The polypropylene rods are very flexible but cannot be used for heavy-duty jobs for long. Fibreglass rods come in many different rigid and flexible styles, while rattan rods are very stiff. Instead of working with rods, some chimney brushes come with a rope attached so the brush can be pulled up and down the chimney using pull rings and weights, according to the University of Missouri.
Rotary chimney cleaning systems use a continuous rod that can be as long as 60 feet, as well as a cleaning head that can be adjusted. Metal chimney rods are available for these rotary chimney cleaning systems. The rotary system uses a spinning whip to knock out soot and creosote and is designed to reach the nooks and crannies that a traditional brush might miss, according to Four Seasons Chimney Service.
A chimney sweep vacuum is specially designed to clean up soot and ash from chimneys. A cleaner with a crevice attachment is a good choice. An industrial-type shop vacuum is used instead of a regular household vacuum cleaner because the fine dust can ruin the motor's bearings and enter the room through the vacuum's filters. Chimney vacuums pick up ash from flues, smoke shelves and fireboxes, according to Lindemann Chimney Supply. Other helpful chimney cleaning items include a broom for sweeping up ash and other debris, as well as a metal bucket to collect and dispose of potentially hot ashes safely.
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