Best Wood Heat

An Expert Guide For Heating With Wood

 

How To Clean A Wood Stove Chimney And Stove Pipe

You absolutely must know how to clean a wood stove chimney, if you plan on heating with wood. At the very least, you need to understand the principles involved with the soot and creosote that can ignite and set off a chimney fire.

clean a wood stove chimney

Most people hire a chimney sweep to clean their wood stove chimney at least once a year. If you use dry, seasoned hard wood and operate your wood stove properly, this usually is sufficient.

How To Clean A Wood Stove Chimney And Stove Pipe

  • Wood stove

  • Stove pipe

  • Chimney

  • Ashes

  • Soot

  • Chimney brushes

If you use an air-tight cast iron wood stove, such as a Jotul or Vermont Castings, you own a well-made unit that is designed to burn hardwood slowly and efficiently. The good side of this is that you get a lot of heat from you firewood cords; the downside is that you can also build up some nasty creosote, if you are not careful.

How to tell if your wood stove is buring efficiently

If your stove has a glass door you can easily tell if your fire is burning efficiently; the glass stays clear. When your fire is burning inefficiently, the glass becomes cloudy and is soon blackened with soot. Your stove pipe thermometer is a great help as well.

One way to quickly tell if your stove is burning right is to tap on the walls of the stove pipe. The sound should be hollow, not muffled. In bad cases you can hear the flaky creosote fall off and build up in the inside of the stove pipe. If this happens, you likely do not know how to clean a wood stove chimney.

Check your stove pipe installation

You stove pipe must be installed correctly to be safe. One very common mistake is that the sections are installed upside-down. This enables any smoke and creosote to drip down the inside walls and run out onto the outside of the pipe.

If this is happening, you know you have a problem and need to address it immediately. Reverse the stove pipe so the female end is on the bottom and the male end is on top, entering the piece below. The pipe must also be screwed together to prevent shifting and separation, which could be disastrous. This helps with knowing how to clean a wood stove chimney.

You really should take the pipes apart and clean them with a chimney brush to remove the build-up. Another method is to simply burn it off with a hot fire. This is a bit risky, and should only be done if you have lots of experience.

How to clean a wood stove chimney with a brush

Cleaning the actual chimney can be a matter of running a chimney brush up and down the inside of the chimney, or is can involve some heavier duty tools to remove hardened creosote from the inside walls.

If you are going to do it yourself, make sure you have the right chimney brush, long enough handles, good gloves, strong arms, a good a back, and sure footing once on the rooftop.

If the pitch of the roof is steep, you must have a helper to belay you with a rope in the event that you fall. This is not a complicated as it sounds, but does require a willing partner, a climbing rope, some climbing hardware and some spunk.

To clean the wood stove chimney with a chimney brush, start with the brush attached to a short piece of handle. Run it in and out of the chimney and once that area is clean, add another section and repeat. Do this until you have reached the bottom, or as far as you can reach.

Most chimneys have a clean-out door at the bottom, and you might be surprised at how much soot has fallen down. Simply remove this and dump it in a safe place. Some people use the ashes for sanding icy roads, but I don't know of any other good use for this waste.

If your chimney is a stainless steel one that runs directly into the wood stove, you have to clean out the debris from the inside of the house, which can be a bit messy. You have to detach the stove pipe and catch the falling soot in order to remove it. Make sure you remove this soot and do not just leave it in the stove pipe. This creates a huge fire hazard that must be avoided.

Keep your wood stove pipe and chimney clean

If you know how to clean a wood stove chimney, you will sleep much better and your family will be much safer. Every chimney requires at least annual cleaning and inspection to operate safely and efficiently.

Heating with wood can be enjoyable, comfortable, inexpensive, and satisfying; but it must be done correctly. It takes work to do it right, but it takes a lot more work to do it wrong! Quality wood stove accessories can make a significant difference as well.

 

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