When you call a chimney sweep out to your home for your yearly cleaning you may be interested to know about what equipment he may use. Here in Cincinnati at American Chimney Company, we utilize a few main different kinds of brushes. Depending on what type of flue you have will tell us what type of brush material to use. There are two main kinds of material that chimney brushes can be made out
of, metal bristles or a plastic material known in the sweeping world as polypropylene.
If you have a traditional masonry chimney that has a clay flue tile liner, the metal bristle brush is the ideal type to clean. The heavier bristles are appropriate for cleaning this type of chimney because they will not damage the flue tiles and are most efficient at removing creosote and debris that tends to build up in masonry chimneys more than a chimney lined with a stainless steel liner. There are heavier duty wire brushes made specifically for glazed creosote or stubborn creosote buildup but these are used sparingly. These are known as flat wire brushes.
A chimney lined with a stainless steel liner, so long as that stainless steel liner pipe is insulated, generally has less creosote buildup.
The insulation around the liner actually helps to keep the pipe warm making it a less conducive environment for creosote to build up. For a stainless steel chimney liner, we utilize the polypropylene brushes. These brushes are more gentle and will not damage the liner but are still effective at removing creosote.
The shape of the brush your service man uses may vary. We use mostly square brushes. These clean most any size and shape of flue efficiently and are generally capable of getting into the corners and crannies that some flues present. The way I train my servicemen is to pick a brush based on the size and shape of the flue they are out to clean. If you have a 6″ round stainless steel flue pipe, my service man will select a brush between 6″ and 7″ in diameter made from polypropylene.
Some do-it-yourselfers may use a plastic or similar material rod for their brushes, but we use only high quality fiberglass rods for brushes. These rods are flexible enough to reach up in awkward chimneys but durable. After a chimney sweep we run a video inspection of the entire flue system. A video inspection entails the service man running a camera on a rod up into the chimney flue to check the now-clean flue tiles for missing mortar joints or cracked flue tiles. This provides the homeowner with picture documentation should we deem the damage in the flue as having been caused by a chimney fire; they will be able to submit a more thoroughly documented insurance claim.
Check out this “Ask The Chimney Sweep” video
Chimney Fires … stove Installation