Chimney cleaning is necessary to remove soot, blockages, and creosote buildup from your chimney.
If you don’t clean the chimney regularly and appropriately, the creosote buildup inside the area reduces the fireplace’s efficiency. The process of eliminating combustion gases is impeded and. Also, creosote buildup creates a substantial fire risk.
However, the chimney cleaning process isn’t as easy as it may sound. It’s not all about pushing a brush inside the chimney and “scrubbing” up and down.
To catch the creosote and remove any potential debris trapped in the flue, you need special tools. That’s where the chimney cleaning kit comes in handy.
Below, we discuss all the important points on chimney cleaning and answer pertinent questions homeowners often ask. First, though, a review of some of the best chimney cleaning kits.
Why Should You Clean Your Chimney?
With the winter season on the horizon, your HVAC technician has likely called to remind you about the need to clean your chimney. Even if the chimney itself looks perfectly clean, the technician may still insist on cleaning.
Some people choose to DIY clean their chimneys. However, your technician may also advise professional cleaning. The following is everything you need to know about chimney cleaning.
For one, you want to clean the chimney just because keeping a clean home means the chimney needs to be neat too. More importantly, though, you need to clean your chimney for the following reasons;
Prevent Chimney Fires
Chimney fires aren’t always big flames rising above the roof. No. Some studies show that many homes have had smaller chimney fires without the occupants even realizing it. These smaller fires are just as dangerous as the bigger ones.
The primary cause of chimney fires is creosote – a highly acidic residue that develops when hot combustion materials condense as it comes into contact with cold air in the chimney. The condensations ticks to the chimney wall, creating a brown to black residue known as creosote.
Initially, creosote is smooth and tar-like. However, it often hardens over time. Hard creosote is the worth possible thing you can have in the chimney. Aside from blocking the chimney, it’s highly combustible. The best way to prevent creosote buildup and avoid unnecessary fires is through regular chimney cleaning.
Remove Debris, Buildup, and Blockages
We’ve already mentioned creosote buildup. That’s rarely the only thing that may end up in your chimney. First off, debris, birds, and other animals will always find a way into the chimney, especially if there’s a significant opening at the top.
Raccoons are another typical visitor, especially when the chimney cap is missing or bent. These elements can block the chimney and create an additional fire risk.
Secondly, you’re probably aware that the fireplace, furnace, or stove produces multiple combustion byproducts, including smoke, carbon dioxide, soot, tar fog, hydrocarbons, acidic water vapor, and nitrogen dioxide. The chimney is designed to help these byproducts out of the home.
Twigs, branches, and leaves inside the chimney can block these elements from leaving the house, possibly causing buildup that may some of the gases to leak back into the home. The same applies to birds and raccoons in the chimney. It creates blockage, buildup, and ultimately a fire risk.
Prevent Foul Smells
One of the signs of a dirty chimney is unexplained foul odors. If you trace the foul smells to your fireplace, it’s likely the chimney. Often it’s the buildup of combustion byproducts, mostly soot, and creosote. However, it could also be a dead raccoon.
These foul smells are familiar during the summer season when the chimney isn’t in use. A bird may get trapped inside the chimney and rot there for weeks.
Cleaning the chimney at the end of the heating season can help prevent the smells. Another cleaning right before the next heating season is advisable as you don’t want to burn the trapped animals or other items that may create new smells.
Catch Potential Issues Early
Chimney wear and tear is standard. The flue lining may get damaged. If it’s a metal lining, it may develop bends or even tears, impeding the smooth exit of combustion byproducts out of the house. Clay and cast-in-place chimney liners, meanwhile, can develop cracks. Clay liners, in particular, are prone to breaking.
The chimney itself can get damaged too. For masonry models, the walls can crack, and the mortar can become loose. All these issues reduce the chimney’s efficiency and, in some cases, increase the risk of a chimney fire.
During the cleaning, the chimney sweep will note any potential issues and inform you about them so you can take steps to rectify the situation before the heating season begins.
How Can I Tell If My Chimney Needs Cleaning?
First off, it’s recommendable to schedule professional chimney cleaning at least once a year, ideally in the spring. This should be done even if the chimney appears to be in perfect condition.
However, you can also have the chimney cleaned more frequently, especially if you live in a colder region where heating is needed more often than not or in a woody area where debris is likely to fall into the chimney often.
For these latter two situations, you should look out for the following signs before calling the chimney sweep;
- Foul smells: We’ve already discussed the foul odors from the chimney. They may be a result of something rotting in the chimney. Or, it could just be creosote buildup. Whichever the reason, if you determine that the smell is coming from the chimney, it may be time to call the sweep.
- Visible tar deposits: Thick black deposits around the chimney area is another telltale sign that your chimney needs cleaning. Some of this deposit is sometimes found around the stove or on the damper. If deposits are everywhere and easily visible, it tells that the deposits inside the chimney could be substantial.
- Soot dripping into the fireplace: If there’s something blocking soot from leaving the chimney, it binds to surfaces within the chimney, including the chimney walls and flue lining. After some time, the buildup becomes heavy and can no longer resist the pull of gravity. So, you’ll see the soot particles falling onto the fireplace. Strong winds can also dislodge soot buildup.
- Smoke fills the room during heating: It’s never a good idea to wait until you see smoke filling your rooms to clean your chimney. It’s the clearest indication yet that there’s a blockage inside the chimney. Remember that smoke can damage your walls and furniture and even impact your health. Immediate sweeping is vital.
- Poor quality fire: You also know it’s time to clean up when you notice that your fire’s quality is poor. Fires need fresh air to burn healthily. But, when the chimney is blocked, the supply of oxygen is impeded. Moreover, combustion gases that can’t leave the house will be hanging around the fire, further denying it fresh air.
- Signs of animals: Finally, animals, including birds and rodents, love to nest in chimneys that aren’t currently under active use. Signs that there could be animals in your chimney include droppings, debris or brickwork becoming dislodged, chimney flue blockage. Chimney sweeping easily removes any animals.
How to Clean the Chimney
Ideally, you should call a chimney sweep to clean your chimney. It gives you a better chance of removing all the unwanted debris, creosote, and other elements. Better still, chimney sweeps, thanks to their experience, are more likely to catch potential issues that may need repairs.
However, if you decide to clean it on your own, the following is a step-by-step guide to follow;
Tools and Materials
- Chimney brush/cleaning kit
- HEPA vacuum
- Protective gear
- Drop cloths
- A spot-light
The vacuum cleaner helps with dust control as you clean and collect the soot and debris removed from the chimney flue. Drop cloths, meanwhile, help with covering and protecting the floors and furnishings.
The Step-By-Step Process
- Prepare the surrounding area: Remove all items in front of the fireplace and move back any furniture. Use old sheets to cover furniture and other dust sensitive items in the room to protect them from the soot and creosote.
- Lay tarpaulin: If there are any rugs near the area, roll them back. Then, lay down a tarpaulin or drop cloths in front of the fireplace. You don’t want every last drop of the creosote and soot entering the fireplace. Also, lay a dust sheet on the fireplace surround to collect soot.
- Remove the grate: Remember to wear your protective gear (eyewear, gloves, dust mask, etc.) first. Then, remove the grate from the fireplace as the final preparation before the cleaning process begins.
- Clean the fireplace: Taking care not to breathe in soot or creosote, use a soft brush and dry cloth to shovel out all the ash and debris from the fireplace.
- Inspect the chimney: Use the spot-light to check up the flue. If there’s a damper, make sure it’s open. Check for animals, birds, missing firebrick, and the presence of creosote. If the creosote looks hard and thick, you may need to call in a professional.
- Select the right brush: The brush you choose for the cleaning process will depend on your flue’s shape and size. Also, determine the height of the chimney and select the right-size rode. Then attach the brush to the rod.
- Start scrubbing: Push the brush up the chimney using a slight anti-clockwise movement. Then, once the brush is up there, scrub vigorously, adding more rods as you move up the flue.
- Remove the soot: Withdraw the brush. Then, lift the bottom of the dust sheet, remove the brush from the pile of soot, and shovel the sheet into a metal bucket.
- Vacuum and finish up: You’re almost there. As the final step, vacuum the area, reassemble the grate and surrounds, and shake out the drip cloths outside. You can safely bury the soot and creosote as both are environmentally friendly.
Chimney Cleaning FAQ
What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Chimney?
Failure to clean the chimney can result in several issues. For one, leaves, debris, and nesting animals may block the flue, creating a massive fire risk. Additionally, blockages may cause combustion gases to leak back into your living rooms. An unclean chimney also guarantees poor flame quality and may impact heating efficiency and costs.
How Often Should You Clean Your Chimney?
The recommended frequency is once a year, preferably in the spring. Summer isn’t ideal as chimney sweep prices tend to rise due to increased demand. However, you can also clean your chimney more often, say twice or thrice a year, depending on where you live and how you use the fireplace/stove/furnace.
How Much Does it Cost to Clean the Chimney?
It depends on whether you’re doing it on your own or hiring a professional. If you’re DIY-cleaning it, then you only need to purchase the cleaning kit. Chimney cleaning kits are priced between $150 and $75. If you are hiring a professional, the charges will depend on where you live but typically range from $125 to $300, including inspection and sweeping costs.
Best Chimney Cleaning Kit Reviews
1. Gardus RCH205-B SootEater Rotary Chimney Cleaning System
- Increases the performance of your woodstove and/or fireplace.
- Spinning chimney whip removes dangerous Soot and creosote build-up better than a brush.
- Do it yourself and save money. No ladders needed, safely clean from the bottom up.
- Easy to handle - only use with a cordless drill (18V recommended)
- 18’ length – extension kits available (CRD307)
Gardus has engineered innovative rotary cleaning products designed to remove the hassle from routine chimney maintenance. One of the most affordable options on this list, the model RCH205-B SootEater chimney cleaning kit is specifically designed for wood stoves and fireplace flues.
It features a unique trim design that fits multiple flue types and sizes, from 5-inch to 18-inch diameters for round flues, 12-inch x 12-inch flues for square chimneys, and up to 8-inch x 12-inch for oval flues. Although tough enough to remove every last bit of soot, it’s soft enough to avoid scratching metal flues like the traditional brush.
It reaches the tightest areas and fits on any drill. It also spins forward and in reverse, allowing you to clean the chimney from the bottom up without a ladder. This makes DIY cleaning exceptionally easy. The kit includes six (6) 3-foot flexible rods with a reversible bottom link system.
- Extendable up to 18 feet
- Manual or cordless drill-powered
- Cleans multiple size chimneys
- Quick connect rods
- You can’t replace brush twines
- The connecting rods can become wobbly
2. Xedragony Chimney Cleaning Brush Fireplace Flue Sweep Whip Cleaner
- Our special Chimney Brush can effectively sweep away soot and creosote buildup, help prevent flue fires.
- Durable Rods: Each rod 3.3 Feet in length, 0.5 Inches in diameter. A total of 6 rods up to 20 Feet. Button lock quick connector, no disconnecting during any direction of rotation.
- Flexible Brush Head: Easy to rotate at high speed with a drill, just like a whip, safer and more efficient than steel brushes. 17 inches in diameter, big enough but flexible, fits almost all flue diameters from 4 to 20 inches even more.
- Special Bristle: Helical nylon string, with a special sharp edged rectangular shape, makes the sweep more efficiency.
- Wide Applicability: Suitable for both metal flues and brick chimneys, including round, square, oval or rectangle clay flues, smooth wall flexible chimney liners.
Another exceptional chimney cleaning kit, the Xedragony, is slightly taller after all the rods are connected, reaching up to 20 feet. You still get six rods, but each rod is slightly taller at 3.3 inches.
This makes this unit an even better fit for taller chimneys. Each rod is about 0.5 inches in diameter and made from reinforced nylon for durability, flexibility, and a comfortable grasp.
The flexible brush heat is easy to rotate at high speed with a drill and a lot safer than steel brushes in breaking through soot and creosote buildup. It is 17 inches in diameter, large enough to fit almost all flues from 4-20 feet.
Above all, the helical nylon brush bristles with sharp-edged rectangular ends ensure exceptional cleaning efficiency. Combined with the impressive rotational force generated by the drill, the bristles can remove even the most stubborn buildup inside the chimney.
- Button lock quick rod connect system
- Use clockwise or anti-clockwise
- Use in forward or reverse motion
- Use for all chimney types and shapes
- Buttons feel hard to push
- The rods feel thin
3. SKYSP 26-Foot Flexible Chimney Sweep Kit Durable Chimney Brushes
- Material: The rods are made from reinforced nylon, durable, elastic and chemically resistant, very flexible and perfectly gets through those tough flue bends
- Chrome Coated Locking Mechanism: It's single-pin thread push fitting, no loose during any direction of rotation(clockwise or anticlockwise)
- Easy to Use: Cleaning your stove by yourself and save money. Electrical drill powered, and you can connect multiple rods to extend your reach.
- Safety: Helps prevent flue fires. This cleaning brush can effectively sweep away soot from bottom of your hearth and remove dangerous soot and creosote build-up better than a brush.
- 24 Hour After-sale: We will send you replacement for free when some parts missing or rods are broken, please feel free to contact us
While most chimney cleaning kits contain six rods, some have more or fewer rods. This unit from SKYSP includes eight rods, each one meter long (one meter = 3.37 feet). Therefore, when all the rods are connected, it gives you a 27-foot long chimney cleaning system. 90% of chimneys are less than 27 feet tall.
The rods are made from reinforced nylon for durability, flexibility, and resilience. They are also elastic enough to sneak through those flue bends without any trouble. They implement a chrome coated locking mechanism for a firm fitting.
The brush head is just as durable. Made from heavy-duty nylon rubber composite materials, it uses the most advanced injection technology. The helical nylon string bristles make the unit even more durable.
- High-density nylon brush head
- Sharp-edged, efficient bristles
- Durable, flexible nylon rods
- Drill adapter and hex tool included
- Warranty is only 24-hours long
4. Hansa Tornado Rotary Chimney System Cleaning Kit
- 【 CLEANING THE CHIMNEY FROM THE BOTTOM 】 up means you won't have to climb onto the roof When using the rotary chimney cleaning kit TORNADO, you won't have to climb onto the roof! No need for a ladder or hoist. A chimney pipe of any length can be easily cleaned from the bottom. Simply put the brush into the pipe through the opening in the stove or fireplace and push upwards.
- 【 CLEAN YOUR CHIMNEY LIKE PROFESSIONAL 】 Cleaning a chimney with a brush is usually difficult and tedious process, which requires patience and the right equipment. That is why, for a long time this job was left to professional chimney sweeps. But now you can do it yourself without any special knowledge or multiple cleaning products. Using this rotary chimney cleaning kit TORNADO, you can do the job quickly and efficiently. In the process you will save money
- 【 SUITABLE FOR ALL TYPES OF CHIMNEYS】 The flexibility of nylon rods and brush bristles allows TORNADO to adapt and mould to the structure of all types of flue pipes. Therefore it is suitable for cleaning a chimney of any width and shape (round, oval, rectangular). Also TORNADO works better than traditional metal brushs because it won't scratch the surface of the pipe and is suitable for metal as well as brick chimneys.
- 【 GREAT CLEANING POWER 】 The rotary brush TORNADO works by connecting the rods to any electrical drill. When connected to the drill the brush can rotate from a few hundred to several thousand revolutions per minute (depending on the power of the drill). The bristles of the brush TORNADO have a special sharp edged rectangular shape of a twisted rope. With the help of a large rotational force the bristles remove even the most stubborn build up inside any flue or chimney.
- 【 GIFT FOR EVERY PURCHASE 】 With each set that You will buy, there will be a TORNADO professional rod bag added to the order! Great way to store everything safe after each cleaning.
Cleaning the chimney with a brush is usually a tedious and challenging process. The wrong tools can make the job even more stressful.
That’s why, for a long time, chimney sweeping was strictly a professional’s job. Not anymore. With the Hansa Tornado rotary cleaning kit, you can clean your chimney on your own, without usual stresses.
The kit uses extremely flexible nylon rods, allowing you to reach every corner of the chimney flue. This also means that it can easily clean all types of flues, whether round, square, rectangular, or oval. It reaches heights of up to 12 meters (about 39 feet).
You can use any drill; a drill connector is included. Once connected, allow the brush head to rotate as you push the rod up the chimney.
- Get a free rod bag
- Flexible nylon rods
- Large brush head
- Soft bristles
- No mention of warranty
5. Morinoli 26-Foot Chimney Cleaning Kit Vent Chimney Cleaning System
- 【MOST VALUABLE DESIGN】No stuck,no loose design! Compared with ordinary kits, our chimney sweep kit has a sturdy, nice chrome button locking system to ensure that it will not loosen in any direction of rotation (clockwise or counterclockwise).It is easy to assemble and disassemble by pressing the button and each of our chrome button locking chimney brushes rods is 39.3 inches,which can greatly save cleaning time.
- 【THE HIGH-QUALITY CHIMNEY SWEEP KIT】Our chimney brush bristle is made from strong nylon string,with a special sharp edged rectangular shape, which makes the sweep more efficiency.The chimney brush rods are made from nylon,elastic and chemically resistant.The head of rods is made of stainless steel which has corrosion resistance and always maintain a bright surface.It will not be broken or stuck in the pipeline during cleaning.It can be stored for a longer time and service life.
- 【EASY TO USE AND EFFICIENT CLEANING】This chimney cleaning kit can effectively sweep away soot and creosote buildup from bottom of your hearth.The chimney brush is suitable for pipes of various shapes and sizes.It can clean other difficult-to-reach areas quickly & easily.Make your cleaning endeavors something that is more easier.
- 【HELP PREVENT FLUE FIRES】The chimney sweep kit sweep away dangerous soot and creosote buildup from inside the chimney or on the roof to help prevent flue fires.When the chimney is cleaned, the air enters the chimney more smoothly, which can help burn more completely in the fireplace and make the room warmer.It can also help you save the professional service costs of the chimney cleaning.
- 【CHIMNEY SWEEP KIT INCLUDING】8 Qty. 39.3 inches Flexible Chrome Button Locking Chimney Rods;1 Qty. Flexible Chimney Brush;1 Qty. Gripper Gloves;1 Qty. Heavy Duty Plastic Sheet ;1 Qty. Collection Bag;1 Qty. Metal Drill Attachment;1 Qty. Hex Key;1 Qty. Instruction Manual.If you have any questions about the product, please feel free to contact us, we will do our best to help you solve it.Our service and excellent quality will make you completely satisfied.
The Morinoli comprises durable and elastic nylon rods designed to be chemically resistant. The rods are exceptionally flexible, perfect for those hard-to-reach flue bends. It implements a single-pin thread push fit to prevent loose connections during operation.
The brush head is just as tough. It is made from high-density reinforced nylon rubber composite materials and applies advanced injection technology to eliminate even the toughest chimney buildup. It’s also hard-wearing, resistant to high impact, and ideal for 20-60-cm flues.
Finally, the bristles are made from helical nylon strings for durability and flexibility. While tough enough to remove any creosote buildup, they won’t damage your metal lining.
- 12 x 3.3-foot rods (total = 39.3 feet)
- Impact-resistant brush heads
- Hard-wearing nylon bristles
- Clockwise or anti-clockwise use
- Bristles aren’t very stiff
- No warranty
6. REALFLO 33-Foot Electrical Rotary Drill Drive Chimney Brush Rod Kit
- 1.One chimney brush kit include a bristle, hex tool, drill adapter, and 10pcs flexible rods (total 10m length).
- 2.Electrical drill powered,and you can connect multiple rods to extend your reach.
- 3.Cleaning your stove by yourself and save money.
- 4.Helps prevent flue fires.This cleaning brush can effectively sweep away soot from bottom of your hearth.
- 5.Spinning chimney whip-removes dangerous soot and creosote build-up better than a brush
Made from reinforced nylon, this is another very tall cleaning kit. It comprises ten (10) rods, each measuring 100cm. Thus, when connected, you get a 10-meter rod system that can reach heights of up to 39 feet. Very few chimneys are taller than 39 feet.
The 40cm brush head is made from high-density reinforced rubber composite materials. It’s hard-wearing and resistant to impacts. More importantly, it’s designed to reach every corner of the chimney flue.
The kit uses helical nylon string bristles for greater durability. These bristles feature sharp-edged rectangular edges for maximum efficiency but are soft enough not to damage your metal flue.
- Suitable for metal and brick chimneys
- Works for flues of different diameters
- Ideal for chimneys up to 39-feet high
- Drill-powered or manual use
- Suitable for curved piping
- No warranty
- The rod connection can feel wobbly
7. EAZY2HD 29-Feet Dryer Vent Cleaner Brush, Lint Remover
- VALUABLE TOOL : Comes with 22 flexible rods. Our dryer vent cleaning brush is 4" diameter, and can be used in 3-4" ducts. 1 pcs 1 ½” Diameter Lint Trap Brush(7.9inch long).These can also be used with a/c ducts and pellet stove pipes. They work great with PVC, flex ducts, metal ducts, pipes, and delivers results fast.NOTE:NOT WORKING WITH FLEXIBLE FOIL DUCT.
- USE IN TIGHT SPACES: The rods are extremely durable, flexible and will bend with little to no effort at all. Keep the brush spinning at a low speed and use steady when working with a drill to prevent tearing of flexible vent.
- EASY TO USE:Simply disconnect the pipe from the dryer and from the wall (connection is usually located right behind the dryer); The dryer vent cleaner kit can be used connected to a drill. Always use the drill in a clockwise direction and low speed to prevent the rods from unscrewing at the threaded connections. Add extension rods as needed and secure them with duct tape.
- SAFETY AND EFFICIENCY: With our cleaning kit, delivers superior results and helps you prevent costly repairs. It helps prevent dryer fires by regularly removing dangerous lint build-up.In addition to helping to prevent dryer fires, this will also reduce drying time and help extend the life of your dryer.
- RISK-FREE PURCHASE - We give you the 180 days 100% satisfaction, money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with our product or purchase, please feel free to contact us.
Finally, the EASY2HD isn’t as tall as the last few chimney cleaning kits on this list. It is best suited for medium-height chimneys at just 29 feet (once all the rods are connected). It’s also best suited for average-sized chimney diameters, up to four (4) inches.
What sets it apart, however, is value for money. First off, this is the most affordable chimney cleaning kit on the list at under $30. Secondly, it features a 1½-inch diameter lint-trap brush system (7.9 inches long). Above all, the rods are incredibly flexible, bending with little to no effort. The kit can be connected to an electric drill or used manually.
Always use the drill in a clockwise direction and at a low speed to prevent the rods from unscrewing from the threaded connections.
- Very affordable
- It’s a lint trap brush system
- Excellent in small spaces
- Extremely flexible
- Only usable in a clockwise direction
- Comprise too many rods (22)
Chimney cleaning is a must if you want to prevent chimney fires and heating inefficiency. Regularly cleaning the chimney also protects your family from potential health issues resulting from smoke and carbon monoxide.
If you’re not prepared to pay $125 to $300 for professional sweeping, pick up the best chimney cleaning kit for under $70 and do the cleaning yourself.