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How do I sweep a chimney? Answered

I'm not even sure if my chimney needs to be swept, but I've got a cord or so of seasoned firewood and a fireplace, I just want to make sure everything is in good order before I start running my fireplace regularly.

I've got a basement and main floor fireplace, both share the same chimney and both are the original brick fireplaces built into the house in in I'm guessing the 50's or 60's

The instructables hive mind knows just about everything, so what can you tell me?


First of all know that the older your chimney is and the more times it has ben (cleaned) the more chance you could damage the insert..that being the fireblock flume that is inside the brick chimney. I lived in Maine and worked with sweeps that cleaned two hundred year old chimneys. One thing is clear, if you damage the fireblock you are screwed big time! Also it can e very messy. Inspect the conditon of your firebox...look for any cracking or loose or missing mortar. Sometimes the fire brick itself crumbels or the frame for the damper is corroded. if all is good , go by a chimney cleaning kit. Take some plastic sheeting and seal off your fireplace from the rest of the house. Take the cleaning attachments and use as many extensions as you need. Slowly brush up and down. The more wood you burn the and the longer it has not ben cleaned the longer it will take. I have noticed that houses built in the 50 and 60s often have fire brick or high temp cement (mortar) damage. Now, to repair lost or damaged high temp cement you must carefuly dig out the old grout and clean the area thouroughly.

Mix your high temp cement to the consistency of cake batter. Use a masonry bag and wet the area first, it need not be sopping wet. Apply only about 1/4 inch thick at a time. this is very important or it will not cure right. Let cure for at least 30 minutes before applying another layer.

If your fireblock needs replacing take out only the ones that are damaged..such as very crumbely or flaking in large flakes. If they are damaged it should not be hard to remove them. Make sure the new brick is wet before using grout. Check to make sure moisture is not getting inside chimney or firebox. I good indicator is if your damper frame, wich is secured into the inside of the flume is rusted badly or not.

Soemtimes it is just poor chimney desighn. But if you have had the house awhile and know that no repairs have ben done before then its just a matter of maintanance.

I have noticed that very old houses on the east coast seldom have problems like the west does. Saying fireplaces and chimneys were more robust and carefuly crafted would be an understatment. Since your chimney goes all the way down to the basement look on the bottom wall of the chimeny and somewhere should be a cleanout hatch. There should be one in your fireplace bottom also to sweep ashes in and then clean from the basement. There are other web sites that will tell you all of this with pics wich I do not have to offer. Its not very hard except the masonry repair part if you have not done any before. It is so critical that you get it right i would say get a proffesional and bite the bullet and pay up until you know exactly what to do.

Nothing is worth having your house burn down.


6 years ago

first you need the correct diameter brush and enough sections of chimney rod (ours are threaded, male on one end and female on the other and made of fiberglass) to reach the top of the chimney, you should use quick short reciprocating / rotating strokes as you brush the length of the chimney, it should be done at least once a year before you start burning, more if the wood you are using puts out a ton of creosote like Alder