Fix-It Chick: Cleaning your chimney is necessary — and easy

Chimneys can be cleaned from top to bottom or bottom to top.

Santa is not the only one who likes a clean chimney. Chimneys need to be cleaned at least once a year. Unused chimneys should also be inspected on a regular basis.

Cleaning a chimney is easy for anyone who isn’t afraid of heights.

Step 1: Measure the diameter and overall height of the chimney. Depending on the roof pitch and chimney location, one-story homes typically have chimneys that are less than 15 feet tall, and two-story homes have chimneys that are 21 feet to 25 feet tall. Most chimneys are square, some are rectangular and others are constructed, or lined, with round metal pipe.

Step 2: Purchase or rent an appropriately sized wire or poly brush that will fit snuggly into the chimney opening. Stainless steel chimney pipe should be cleaned with a poly brush, and masonry liners should be cleaned with a wire bristle brush. Don’t forget to get enough chimney brush rod sections or rope to span the height of the chimney.

Step 3: Open the chimney flue. If possible, remove the chimney damper.

Step 4: Chimneys can be cleaned from top to bottom or bottom to top. Chimney sweeping while standing inside the home, though safer, will spread soot and debris throughout the house. When cleaning from the roof top, cover the fireplace opening with plastic sheeting to contain the falling soot and debris.

Step 5: From the rooftop, assemble the chimney rod and insert it down into the chimney until it reaches the firebox floor. When using a rope, tie a weight to the end of the rope and drop it down through the chimney.

Step 6: From inside the home, attach the appropriate sized brush, then slowly pull the brush up through the chimney. Once the brush has been pulled up through the chimney, insert the rod or rope down into the chimney again and this time pull or push the brush from the rooftop down into the home.

Step 7: Repeat the process as many times as necessary to ensure all debris and creosote has been knocked loose from inside the chimney.

Step 8: Clean up the debris and soot from the chimney box and dispose of it properly.

Step 9: Maintain the chimney between cleanings by burning a chimney sweeping log. Chimney sweeping logs are not a substitute for proper cleaning, but they can help reduce creosote buildup throughout the season.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at


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