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Fireplaces and chimneys are basically built using brick and mortar. The inside is lined with a fire proof material such as ceramic flue tiles. If it is used regularly it must be cleaned and inspected at least once a year. With a flashlight you can check inside for any obstructions, such as bird's nests or tar build up. Also you can visually check the flue tiles for cracks or missing mortar.On the outside, look for crumbling mortar between the bricks, cracked bricks, a mortar cap loose or missing bricks. Also look for flashing that has rusted or pulled away from the bricks as these will cause water leaks as well as mortar erosion between the bricks. If it is leaning, has a number of bricks missing or if the flue needs repair, consult a professional.
Clean regularly! Built-up soot and creosote may cause a fire and will restrict the draft, making your fireplace or wood stove inefficient. You may want to hire a professional sweep to do this messy job. If you do it yourself, follow these simple steps:
Cover the fireplace opening with newspaper and protect nearby furniture, carpets, and draperies.
1. Always wear a dust mask and goggles!
2. Use a good steel chimney-sweeping brush to clean from up on the roof.
3. Attach the brush to a rope at least the length of the flue, and attach weights to the end of the brush.
4.Pass the brush repeatedly down to the flue bottom and up again until the brush no longer brings up large amounts of soot and creosote.
5. Use a heavy-duty, not a household vacuum to vacuum the fireplace.
Note: All the tools you will need are available from your home improvement centers and wood stove dealers. You also can buy fiberglass rods that attach to the brush. These are useful for cleaning long horizontal runs of stovepipe or for cleaning a chimney from below.
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