Wood burning fireplaces are a great addition to any home. They keep us warm during the winter, they look beautiful, and who doesn’t enjoy the smell of wood burning on a cold night? However, it’s important to keep your fireplace clean, and part of that maintenance involves knowing which chimney liners are best for your chimney.
Chimney cleaning has been important since the medieval period, when chimney sweeps would clean out flues and chimneys throughout a town. In this period, entire towns were at risk for burning down every few decades because of the prevalence of chimneys in homes and a lack of proper cleaning and maintenance techniques. However, even though our systems today are more advanced, including steel chimney liners and flue liners, a chimney is still at risk for fire if not properly cleaned.
If you have a fireplace in your home, you may wonder how do you clean a chimney, how often should a chimney be cleaned, and what should you use to repair or replace chimney parts. Let’s answer each question one by one:
1. How do you clean a chimney? The first thing to know about a chimney is what causes it to become dirty. As your fireplace burns wood, soot and creosote are produced by the burning wood. Soot is a black powder, and creosote is a slippery liquid that sticks to the chimney’s inner walls. As flammable creosote builds up, your fireplace is at greater risk for a fire. Even stainless steel chimney liners are at risk for these fires, so be sure that they are cleaned as well. Cleaning also prevents breakdowns, which come from the acidic moisture that builds up when flue gases are condensed in the chimney.
If you are able to, hire a professional to clean your chimney for you. If not, how do you clean a chimney yourself? Be sure to wear clothes you won’t mind getting dirty and any protective gear such as dust masks, gloves, and goggles, if necessary. Another precaution to take is to cover your fireplace in plastic, so as to not spread soot and dirt all over the room. Next, you’ll need light to see into the chimney and good brushes: namely, a stiff wire brush and a chimney brush. You will use these up on the roof by dropping the chimney brush down the chimney and scrubbing the chimney’s inner walls. Make sure that you can remove your chimney cover cap to begin and reattach it when finished.
2. How often should you clean a chimney? You should aim to clean it in the late summer or early autumn, before you begin to use it for the cold weather. If you can clean it in the spring, this is also beneficial, but you should at least clean it before using it again during the winter. If you notice any additional build-up after excessive use, you may want to clean it before using it again.
3. What parts are best to use for repairs and replacements? Many older homes may have older chimney systems, and one thing that’s good to use in an update is a stainless steel chimney liner. Chimney liners, among other chimney accessories, help improve energy efficiency in your home and are great for “going green.” Stainless steel chimney liners are typically more affordable than traditional liners, and they have the added bonus of making your home safer.