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Nobody wants poor old Santa to emerge from the chimney looking like a scary, sooty monster. Now that the weather is truly chilly and the generous man from the North Pole is on his way, it’s time to think about your chimney and/or to make sure your wood stove is in working order. Hiring professionals to do this for you is certainly one option, but during a time of year when your pocketbook is already likely to be a bit on the depleted side, you may be motivated to do it yourself. Here are some tips for safe and effective DIY assessment and cleaning of chimneys and wood stoves:
- To assess the degree of creosote build-up on your chimney’s walls, use a flashlight to look inside the flue. Use a pencil or similar tool to scrape the creosote that has built up.
If it is 1/8 inch thick or more, it’s time for a cleaning.
- Check the chimney for animals before you clean. Birds, squirrels, and raccoons may have made your chimney their home during the months since you last used it. If you see any of these
creatures during a flashlight inspection, arrange to have them humanely removed before proceeding.
- Measure the width and shape of your flue and the height of your chimney so you know what size cleaning tools to buy. When in doubt, overestimate.
- Obtain your cleaning tools and supplies, which should include a chimney cleaning brush with extension poles, a drop cloth, a tall enough ladder to reach your roof (if you intend to clean
from the top down), a dustpan and broom, a bucket for holding debris, and a dust mask and goggles.
- When you clean from the bottom up or the top down, use your brush and extension poles to scrub the sides of the flue, removing all soot, creosote, and other debris.
- Make sure your drop cloth is sufficiently spread out to protect the interior of your home around the fireplace. Cover all furniture and roll back rugs.
- Dispose of soot and creosote in the manner required by your local laws. Remember that creosote is flammable and cannot simply be added to the trash.
- Clean your wood stove only when it is cooled off so there is no risk of starting a fire with hot embers that you may scoop out and deposit elsewhere.
- Follow the same steps and use the same supplies as described above. Clean soot and creosote out of your stove pipe from the top (roof) down.
- Scoop all soot, creosote, and ash out from inside your wood stove. Deposit these items into a metal can or bucket, and dispose of them according to the laws in your area.
- Clean the exterior of your wood stove with a solution of two parts water to one part vinegar with a squeeze of dish soap.
When in doubt, call a chimney care professional and contact Consolidated today to make sure that your home insurance is up-to-date.