How To Properly Clean Your Chimney

All homeowners are familiar with home maintenance in some form or another. Buying a house is often among one of the largest purchases a person will ever make and with that investment also comes a lifetime, or however long you own the property, full of mile-long to-do lists and endless upkeep. According to The Daily Positive, keeping a home in livable condition is an ongoing process.


In addition to things like making monthly mortgage and insurance payments, homeowners must also be on the lookout for things around the house in need of repair, stay on top of pest control, and secure proper snow removal if applicable. Some areas of a home require more upkeep than others. For example, as The Daily Positive suggests, come the spring you should give your home a good look inside and out keeping in mind areas like lawns and hedges, gutters, and the air conditioner.

Neglecting your chimney can be dangerous

An area of the home that often gets overlooked during routine maintenance is the chimney. People with a fireplace in their homes love them for many reasons. For some, it's the main source of heat for the house. According to the United States Census Bureau, in some areas, it's estimated that up to 30% of homes rely on burning wood for heat during the colder months.


Alternatively, some fireplaces are simply esthetic — and some are only used occasionally — but they require maintenance. Chimney fires destroy thousands of homes every year due to excessive creosote build-up, and according to Northeastern Chimney, that number can be upwards of 25,000 properties a year.

How to properly clean a chimney isn't exactly homeownership 101, and in many cases, it may be safest to call in a professional chimney sweep to actually perform the cleaning, but if you're curious about the process, here are the basics for you.

Cleaning a chimney is a multistep process

When the time comes to clean your chimney, the first thing you should do is clean out the opening and seal it off. Chimney cleaning is a dirty job and as Home Depot explains, sealing off the opening of the fireplace provides the best protection for the immediately surrounding area of your home. The next step in the process is to climb the roof and remove the rain cap from the opening of the flue, this will provide unobstructed access to the chimney.


Then it's time to brush and clean the flue. This requires a special wire brush to do correctly and can be initiated from the top or the bottom of the chimney, according to Family Handyman. The last and final step in this process is to remove all of the dislodged dust and debris from the fireplace opening. Many people will use a shop vac to perform the removal (via Real Simple), but some still use a wire brush and metal dustpan. All debris should be disposed of in accordance with local regulations.