To heat their own homes, many residents of our vast, use stoves, boilers, fireplaces and other individual heating devices that run on gas, solid and liquid fuels. Their reliability and performance depend not only on the serviceability and quality of fuel combustion, but also on the draft in the smoke ducts.
The problem of using individual heating installations is that, regardless of the fuel, the chimney sooner or later becomes clogged with soot. The soot layer on the walls of the chimney reduces its cross-sectional area, which leads to a decrease in draft. In addition, soot burns quite well, increasing the risk of fire. To ensure the quality and safe operation of heating appliances, the chimney should be cleaned. About cleaning the chimneys of stoves and fireplaces from soot, methods for removing blockages, the tools that are needed for this, and will be discussed in this publication.
Why is the chimney clogged?
Smoke ducts can become clogged, and there are a number of reasons for this:
- Trash. Most often, foliage and “ubiquitous” plastic bags fall into a chimney that is not equipped with an umbrella or deflector. These items burn beautifully, but the stove and fireplace require draft to ignite, which they reduce.
- Bird nests. If you rarely use stove heating, then such a protected place as a chimney can be chosen by birds for breeding. Birds fly away, but nests remain.
- Soot. It inevitably settles on the walls of the chimney during the combustion of fuel. When burning gas — less is released, when burning coal or firewood (especially tarry rocks) — more.
The chimney can also become clogged from burning raw firewood and household waste, especially polyethylene, in the furnace. The rate of soot overgrowth of smoke channels is also affected by the design of the chimneys themselves and the quality of their manufacture. Any ledge or cement build-up increases the concentration of soot in that area.
When does a chimney need to be cleaned?
Cleaning the smoke paths from various kinds of blockages is necessary for the high-quality removal of combustion products and for fire safety purposes. The main signs of a clogged pipe are:
- The flame from a lit match is deflected towards the room.
- Difficulty in lighting the stove. You should know that a large fireplace insert allows you to kindle firewood even with poor draft.
- Smoke from the combustion of fuel exits the combustion chamber into the room. Acrid puffs of smoke are not just a nuisance, they are a sharp increase in the concentration of carbon monoxide in the room.
- Smoke color. White and almost transparent smoke comes out of a clean chimney. Black smoke billows from a smoker clogged with soot.
- The color of the flame in a stove with clean smoke ducts will be light orange. Saturated “orange color” says that the chimney must be urgently cleaned of soot.
Many of our compatriots do not know how and how to clean the chimney from soot and debris.
Basic cleaning methods
The main and most correct action when servicing a chimney is to contact a special service that will carry out all the necessary preparatory measures for your money and do the “dirty work”, moreover, with a quality guarantee. If you are not willing to pay “your hard-earned money” for the work that you are able to do yourself (in your opinion), then you just need to get acquainted with a few of the most common methods for cleaning flue pipes.
Do-it-yourself classic chimney cleaning involves preparatory work and the use of special tools.
- Close the combustion chamber tightly. If you intend to clean the chimney of an open-hearth fireplace, then cover the combustion chamber with a damp cloth to prevent soot and debris from entering the room.
- Prepare a safety rope in case of a fall from the roof.
Do not carry out any work in rain, ice or windy conditions.
- Brush for cleaning chimneys with a type-setting handle.
- Ershik. The most commonly used metal brushes and brushes. The diameter of this device should be several centimeters larger than the diameter of the chimney.
- Cable or rope with a load of 2–3 kg.
- Scoop for shoveling soot through the inspection holes in the chimney.
Cleaning should begin with an inspection of the pipe. If the soot layer is small, then only a brush can be used. If the soot layer is more than 2 mm, then it must be removed with a scraper, and only after removing the main layer, use a brush. If you find that the chimney is tightly clogged with debris and soot, then initially use the weight tied to the cable. Finish cleaning with a brush and brush.
All work is done from the top of the chimney, gradually lengthening the handle of the tool used. After cleaning the pipe, soot should be removed from the chimney through the revision holes. Lastly, the combustion chamber and ash pan are cleaned. After cleaning the flue duct mechanically (classically), check the draft and fire up the stove.
Cleaning chimneys with this method involves the use of chemicals to soften creosote, which turns soot into a durable and monolithic layer.
To date, there are many different products for cleaning chimneys from soot, which are available in the form of liquids, powders and tablets. They are used in different dosages, depending on the degree of contamination of the chimney. But the most popular means for cleaning chimneys from soot among our compatriots are special logs and briquettes, which include chemical reagents that decompose (as the manufacturer indicates) resins that hold soot together.
Using such logs is simple: just put them in the furnace compartment, set fire to it and after a few hours of burning, the smoke with chemicals will soften the resin on the pipe walls, and the soot will settle in the furnace compartment.
Some experts argue that such products can harm the integrity of metal chimneys, since during combustion, the temperature of the exhaust gases rises above 1000 ° C, and all metal smoke ducts are designed for temperatures not exceeding 650 ° C. We cannot confirm or deny this fact, we simply urge you to carefully read the instructions before using chemical cleaners and remember the possible consequences.
Many stove-makers recommend turning their attention to the Czech preparation Kominichek.
When burned, the chemicals from this briquette cause the soot to burn at a lower temperature, making it theoretically safer for metal chimneys. According to the manufacturer, the chemical composition of the briquette is completely safe for human health.
In the old days, to rid the chimneys of soot, our ancestors used aspen, well-dried firewood. When aspen is burned, a persistent and hot flame is formed, due to which the soot burns out. But this method is quite fire hazardous due to the possible overheating of the walls of the chimney.
Another way that came to us from ancient times is the burning of dried potatoes in a fuel chamber. Potato peels for chimney cleaning are by far the safest (and cheapest) option for those who do not want to use hired specialists for this procedure and are afraid to use chemicals. But as practice shows, this technique is ineffective, but as an auxiliary tool, it has the right to exist.
And as a conclusion: cleaning the chimneys of stoves and fireplaces is a complex, rather dirty and traumatic process that is best left to professionals.