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How to Sweep a Chimney: 3 Techniques to Sweep a Chimney Correctly

Chimney sweeps are an essential part of owning a wood-burning fireplace. Regular sweeps help to clear out creosote and detect structural damages that need repair.

For many homeowners, learning how to sweep a chimney can help save hundreds of dollars annually. However, to do a chimney sweep, may sometimes require a professional touch, especially where steep roofs are involved or when there’s an excess buildup of creosote.

Whether you resort to a DIY or professional services, the following materials should not miss any chimney cleaning procedure:

  • Chimney inspection camera
  • Respiratory dust mask
  • Drop clothes
  • A pair of protective glasses
  • Dust sheets
  • A good torch
  • A ladder
  • Tar and creosote removal kits
  • Bird nest removal tools
  • Chimney brush
  • A fireplace cover
  • Duct tape

Basic Preparations

Before sweeping your chimney, ensure your fireplace is completely extinguished. As a safety measure, avoid lighting fires the night before the sweep. Small fires in the fireplace may give way to bigger fire accidents.


Besides, chimney sweeps may sometimes cause a big mess to furniture and carpets near the fireplace. To avoid making a mess, use dust sheets to cover everything in your sitting room.

In addition, ensure to inspect your chimney to confirm if the brush sizes are appropriate, and determine how much scrubbing you will have to do.

There are only two approaches to a chimney sweep: a bottom-up technique and a top-down technique. In line with this, you should decide how to sweep your chimney beforehand and prepare the appropriate tools and equipment.


Bottom-up technique for chimney sweeping

When learning how to sweep a chimney, a bottom-up approach is the safest route to explore:

The first step in this procedure is to insert a chimney brush inside the fireplace opening leading to the flute. Make a small hole on the fireplace cover, and insert the leading rod.

Connect the rod to the brush inserted earlier, and ensure they are tightly fit together.

Seal the fireplace using a dust sheet and tape. Ensure there are no loose ends that will allow debris into your living room.

how to sweep a chimney

Push the leading rod up the chimney while connecting more rods as you go high up the flue. You can use the affordable screw-type rods or opt for lock fast rods.

As you push the rods, rotate them in a clockwise direction to dislodge soot caught up in the flue. Be keen not to push too hard as this may make you miss some areas and bring down torrents of debris.


You will feel it when your brush gets to the top of the chimney. However, experts recommend that you go outside and check. Once you are certain, you can begin to lower the rods repeating the same procedure while removing the rods one at a time.

Give your chimney some time to settle before checking to see your progress. If unhappy with the result, repeat the process until you are satisfied.


Top-down technique for chimney sweeping

Though effective as the bottom-up approach, this technique is often considered unsafe for those learning how to sweep a chimney. It is advisable to contact a trained professional if you have a steep roof or your climbing prowess isn’t worth any bragging rights.

  1. The first step to a top-down chimney cleaning process is to open the damper located above the fireplace.
  2. Next, firmly secure the fireplace cover in place to prevent debris from messing up your room. Use a ladder to climb up the roof and use the necessary equipment to remain anchored.
  3. Insert the chimney brush into the flue and rotate the rod clockwise as you push it down.
  4. Attach more rods appropriately until the brush reaches the bottom of the chimney.
  5. Repeat the process will pulling back the brush and detaching the rods appropriately. If you are still learning, repeat this process until you feel you have mastered how to sweep your chimney. Climb back down and clean the fireplace, being cautious not to make a mess.


Figuring out how to sweep a chimney is quite simple when dealing with ordinary soot.

However, when you have a buildup of soot and creosote, you will need a trained professional to clean up your chimney and make necessary chimney repairs. Do not hesitate to contact a certified chimney sweep company when in doubt. It’s better to be safe than sorry-so they say.


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