It may surprise you to learn that chimneys aren’t just reserved for fireplaces. Many furnaces and boilers also use them, allowing gases and exhaust out of your home and into the air, where they can disperse and no longer cause harm. These chimneys are essential to our well-being and to the functionality of our necessary heating appliances. However, if they become clogged, they go from helpful to outright dangerous.
Clogged chimneys can cause fires, spread toxic gases, and also come with the risk of falling debris, such as bricks and soot. The clogging culprits are most often an animal attempting to nest inside, tree debris such as leaves or seeds, or creosote, which naturally builds up each time you have a fire. It is also possible that the interior structure of the chimney is breaking down due to age or cycles of freezing and thawing that occur naturally over time as the seasons change. The causes are simple, but the task of fixing them might not seem to be.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can go about unclogging a blocked chimney so that you and your family can continue to stay warm and breathe healthily.
How to tell if your chimney is clogged
Before you start searching for chimney-appropriate cleaning products, however, you should first know how to identify if your chimney is even clogged in the first place. There are a few tell-tale signs to look out for, such as:
- The smell of exhaust
- No hot water or heat
- An unusually smoky smell during a fire
- Debris at the bottom of the fireplace
- Leaking water
If you spot any of these warning signs or a combination of them, it means your chimney is probably blocked, and it’s time to either clean the chimney yourself or hire a professional, such as a Mr. Roof masonry specialist, to get the job done for you.
Ways to unclog a chimney
Now that you know what to look out for, you’re probably wondering what you do if you are dealing with a clogged chimney.
If you’re using a flue liner, you can clean it out yourself if you have the right protective gear and supplies. You’ll need a ladder, a source of light such as a flashlight or headlamp, protective clothing including a mask, gloves, eye goggles, chimney-appropriate brushes and brooms, and some protective sheets. You may also want to bring a bucket to fill with any removed debris. Then, follow these steps:
- If you have a fireplace or a wood stove, block it off before you begin cleaning by taping plastic across the fireplace opening.
- Grab your ladder, and climb.
- Once you’re on the roof, remove the chimney cap and clean it first. Chimney caps are very important to the health of a fireplace, so this may also be a good time to look into replacing yours entirely, if necessary.
- Move on to cleaning out the top portion of the chimney. Remove all the debris you can from the top, either by poking the debris down or pulling it out with a brush.
- Use a wire brush from the bottom half of the chimney to get the rest of it. You may also be able to remove nesting materials without scaling the roof at all, simply using a special corkscrew attachment to a cleaning rod, which hooks onto the nest and drags it out of your chimney. However, if you don’t have this, it’s fine to start from the top and work your way down. Remember to have drop cloths around when you’re working inside, as chimney debris can get messy.
- Additionally, if you have two separate flues running up to the same chimney, you may need to search for the white wall in the middle to be sure it is not blocking the system. If it is, you can go in from the bottom and widen the opening to clear the block.
Hiring a professional
Cleaning your chimney as an amateur can be difficult and time-consuming. Even if you can do it, you may just prefer to contact a professional and get them to do the job for you. A professional service can also answer questions and offer advice on your situation. If you’d like to hire a chimney-cleaning service, or just get a professional opinion on the matter, feel free to contact Mr. Roof. Our team will be glad to go over your needs and provide a free quote and an inspection. We’d love to help you protect your home and family from all the problems a clogged chimney can cause.