Guide written by:
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester
Cleaning a chimney is essential to ensuring proper smoke evacuation and limiting the risks associated with a chimney fire. The sweeper, round or square, nylon or steel and mounted on a sweeping rod, allows the chimney to be cleaned by removing any accumulated soot and ash on the pipes.
- Nylon or steel
- Sweeping rod
Why use a chimney sweeper?
Any one that has the priviledge of owning a working fireplace will tell you that an efficient and safe chimney requires regular maintenance! In order to keep your chimney in good condition, there's only one solution: use a chimney sweeper that is adapted to your chimney.
A chimney sweeper is used to clean soot build-up, ash and dust in chimneys - which start to accumulate and form slabs along the chimney flue. Eventually, this build-up can not only prevent the proper evacuation of smoke but also cause a fire to start inside the chimney, so they should never be taken lightly!
The principle behind a chimney sweeper is simple: an accessory that closely resembles a brush - referred to as a sweeper - is attached to the end of a rod. This sweeping rod, which can be more or less flexible depending on the shape of your ducts and can be extended by adding new rods. They are screwed in and interlock in place with the ensemble.
Thanks to the consistent back and forth gesture that you make, the sweeper's brush will scour the duct's walls to render it perfectly clean.
Despite their apparent simplicity, choosing an effective chimney sweeper is not so easy! Depending on your chimney's configuration, material and dimensions, compatible chimney sweeper models can greatly vary. Not to worry, this guide is here to help you choose the right one!
What are the main characteristics of a chimney sweeper?
Determine the flue material
It is the determining factor in your choice of a proper chminey sweeper. There are two main types of chimney flues.
Traditional slab or cinder ducts can be composed of brick or concrete, among other elements. Very common in old buildings, they come in square or rectangular sections. These ducts require a chimney sweeper made of hard material, such as steel or stainless steel.
Modern pipes, referred to as tubing, are more efficient and safer. These are oval or round stainless steel ducts. These ducts require a soft sweeper, composed of plastic or nylon. Maintaining these models is easier. The goal is to avoid scratching the duct or loosening it! Stove pipes, often made of metal and referred to aluminized or stainless steel pipes, are also cleaned with a nylon sweeper.
Section and dimensions of a sweeper
After determining your duct's material, here are the different factors that need to be considered:
- The duct's section determines the shape of the required sweeper. The current market offers round, oval, square, and rectangular models;
- The duct's diameter determines the sweeper's diameter. The most common diameters are 80, 125, 150, 200 or even 250 mm. If in doubt, go with a slightly larger diameter and "cut" your sweeper with a pair of pliers!
- The duct's length determines the number of rods to be used with the sweeper. You should plan for two extra meters of length for easy handling.
The sweeping rod also requires some consideration. Composed of either a flexible material such as plastic or a rigid one like steel, it offers many options, most of which are largely dictated by the configuration of your duct. If the duct has several elbows joints, you will require a flexible rod. Its thickness also indicates its ability to maneuver around these types of joints, as does its degree of flexibility, which should normally be clearly indicated by the manufacturers.
Useful accessories for chimney sweeping
Since sweeping rods are threaded, it is very easy to add useful accessories that might be needed for your configuration - provided that the threading matches. If necessary, you can affix:
- Swabs, chimney brushes and paint brushes. They play the same role as any traditional sweeper but are designed for specific needs - narrow ducts, horizontal installations, etc..;
- Guiding wheel and bearing. The two elements are placed at the head of the rod and serve to improve the sweeper's guidance, especially for long lengths;
- A guide ring which serves to fix a rope to the rod. Convenient for two-person work up and down the duct.
Finally, you can always go with a chimney-sweeping kit that includes all the required equipment for quality results without having to worry about compatibility!
Chimney sweeping: chimney sweeping log
What is a chemical cleaning?
Chemical cleaning involves the fiery consumption of a product referred to as a chimney cleaning log, that will clean the walls of the chimney. However, this is an operation that should only be performed before a manual sweeping - to facilitate the removal of dirt - and should never, in any case, replace a true sweeping.
Chimney sweeping and home insurance
Know that in case of dispute - for a fire for example - insurers have the right to ask you for a certificate of sweeping, delivered by an authorized professional. It's therefore very important to do some research before launching yourself into your own chimney sweeping!
To learn more about different heating solutions for keeping your house nice and warm, follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:
Guide written by:
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester, 27 guides
After some time busting my hump at construction, specifically at renovation, painting, carpentry, laying kitchen and bathroom tile, I decided to get my degree as a Carpenter. And I did well because nothing is more pleasant than working on a timber frame or designing a wooden house. Everything about woodworking fascinates me, and building my own home in this material is one of my goals. I’m also a follower of construction tools: I love to learn about innovations, the way they’re used, the tips and tricks, or the performances of each new tool on the market, whether it’s for woodworking or not. I would be happy to advise you and help you with your choices. Happy Tinkering.