Cleaning Your Own Chimney Or Flue

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Chimney sweeps really do earn their money, especially on steep roofs and multi-storey houses.  If your home does not have an extremely steep roof, and if you are in good physical shape, you may consider cleaning your own wood stove flue or chimney.

Note: If your homeowner’s insurance requires annual records of chimney or wood stove pipe cleaning by a certified professional, you should not clean your own wood stove flue or chimney.

First Step To Cleaning Your Wood Stove Flue Or Chimney


Carefully, using a ladder, go up on your roof and remove the rain cap on your chimney using a screwdriver or nut driver. Use a tape measure or calipers to measure the interior diameter or “ID” of your chimney or wood stove flue.  Once you have the correct diameter you can order the right size brush. You can find wood stove flue cleaning brushes and chimney sweep brushes at some hardware stores in northern states, and online on sites like Amazon and eBay. (see links below).  Also, using a long tape measure or string and weight, measure the depth of your wood stove flue or chimney by dropping the tape or line all the way down to where the damper is located. This is how long your extension poles will need to be. Order enough length of extension poles to reach all the way to the bottom of your chimney or flue.  While you are up there on the roof, examine the chimney or flue for any areas that may require sealing to prevent roof leaks, for rust, presence of birds or animals, etc. Always make sure that you have a grate or screen across your chimney or flue to prevent nesting birds. Look down the chimney with a powerful flashlight to make sure there are no nests or other dangerous obstructions that could cause a fire.

Next Step In Cleaning Your Own Chimney

Once you have the correct sized brush and chimney brush extensions to reach all the way to the bottom, you can go back up on the roof and clean your own chimney or wood stove flue. Always wait until your roof is nice and dry and use tie off ropes and a safety harness when possible.  A helper to hold the ladder is highly recommended. If you are in any way in doubt about your ability to do this job, don’t and leave it to a professional chimney sweep. If you can do this job however, you can save hundreds of dollars over the years by cleaning your own wood stove flue or chimney.

Clean Up Any Soot And Debris That Falls Down Your Chimney

When you clean your own chimney or flue you may cause soot and debris to fall down the chimney into the fireplace or wood stove. If it falls all the way through, use a shop vac to clean up the soot. Work the damper back and forth and run the shop vac hose up into the pipe or chimney from underneath to pick up any soot that may cause a fire. Note: Wearing a dust mask and goggles is a very good idea for this part of the job.  Once you have dislodged all of the soot in your chimney or flue you are done. You just saved about $200 or more.

Note that one thing that cleaning your own chimney or flue cannot do is provide you with an annual certificate or maintenance or a professional assessment of your wood stove or fireplace. Some areas require a certificate and self cleaning your own chimney cannot do this. If you are comfortable with this trade off, then you can save quite a bit of money by doing your own chimney sweeping.

Look for do it yourself chimney sweep kits on eBay and also ones like the one below on Amazon    You can often buy brushes and extension poles separately and save some money.

Click on image for details on Amazon

If you must have an insurance certificate for chimney cleaning but need your chimney cleaned more than once per year, you can do one of the cleanings yourself, after a chimney sweep has done theirs, and save some money. I’ve been cleaning my own wood stove pipe for several years now and it is not a difficult job.  You will be proud of the money you saved and for learning a new skill once you are done with the job.

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