Chimney Cleaning Tools: What You Need To Get the Job Done Right

You may think of cleaning your chimney as a pretty straightforward task. However, there are a number of outlandish ideas circulating about how to keep your fireplace area pristine. Maybe you’ve heard some of them, too. Some of the craziest suggested techniques include:

  • Burning potato peels
  • Filling a burlap bag with bricks and dropping it down the chimney
  • Putting the top of a pine tree down the chimney
  • Salting your logs while they burn
  • Setting a chimney fire

Most of these old wives’ tales have been around for ages. You might be tempted to experiment, but take it from us: most of these don’t work. What’s worse is that they can cause more damage and are potentially dangerous.

So, is it possible to clean your chimney on your own? Absolutely. How? By using the same chimney cleaning tools the pros use.

Buckle up, because there are quite a few.

What You Need To Clean Your Chimney

Although you can definitely clean your chimney yourself, you will get much better results with the proper equipment. Before you begin, you’ll need to borrow or purchase the materials below.

Chimney Brush and Rods (or Rope and Pull Strings)

The type of chimney brush you need depends on your flue liner. If you have a clay flue liner, you need a metal bristle brush. If you have a metal liner, you need a brush with plastic bristles.

It goes beyond that, though. You need to know the size of your flue liner to know what brush size you need. Moreover, you need special brushes for both the firebox and smoke chamber. And depending on the cleaning method you use, you’ll want either flexible chimney cleaning rods or a rope and pull strings.

Your best bet is to get a chimney cleaning brush kit from a store that specializes in these types of tools.

Dust Mask or Goggles

Chimney cleaning can be hazardous to your health. Because of this, it is important to invest in high-quality goggles that form a secure seal. You’ll also need a dust mask so you’re not breathing in dangerous particles.

Fireplace Cover or Tape

If you want to clean your chimney using the top-down method, you should seal the fireplace off from the rest of the house. That means either buying a cover for the fireplace or sealing it off very carefully with tape.

Flashlight or Mirror

Planning on getting up on the roof to clean your chimney? You’ll want a good flashlight to shine down into the opening after the job’s done to ensure the chimney’s completely clean. Going from the bottom up? A hand mirror will help you inspect your work.


If you want to head up to your roof, you’ll need a ladder to climb up there. Make sure it’s sturdy and in good condition.

Also, not to state the obvious, but walking around on your roof can be dangerous. If you are not comfortable scaling a ladder and walking at an angle, you have two options:

1. Use a bottom-up cleaning method.
2. Contact a professional.

Check out these tips from the National Safety Council to stay safe while using a ladder.

Tarps or Drop Cloths

Cleaning a chimney is a messy job. When you are finished, you will be left with lots of ash, dirt and debris. With an open fireplace, it will get all over your house–unless you cover things well.

That means using tarps or drop cloths to cover everything close to the fireplace: the floor, the furniture–you want to cover all of it. For even better protection, use duct tape to keep the tarps in place and seal the edges.

Shovel, Broom, and Metal Bucket

It’s not uncommon for dirty chimneys to contain five to ten gallons of dirt and debris. How do you clean up all that mess? Make sure you have a shovel and broom nearby to dispose of these materials.

Of course, you have to put that dirt someplace, which means using an ash bucket. You will want a metal container, because it needs to be stronger than a trash bag. You want a big one (or two small ones) because of the sheer quantity of waste material.

Ash Vacuum

If the idea of a shovel, broom and metal bucket doesn’t sound appealing to you, there is another solution. You can get an ash vacuum instead. This type of vacuum is specially designed to get rid of the debris that comes from cleaning out a chimney. These devices range in price from around $50 to over $1,000.

Are you thinking of using your regular vacuum or a shop vac for the job? Don’t. Ash and fireplace debris can be hot–even if it seems cool. Non-ash vacuums aren’t made to handle high-temperature debris. Using them can ruin the vacuum and potentially put you in danger.

Capitol Chimney Has The Tools and Expertise To Clean Your Chimney

DIY is all the rage right now. While it’s certainly possible to clean your chimney on your own, most homeowners don’t have the tools, expertise and time to get the job done right. Plus, cleaning your fireplace is an extremely dirty job! With over a decade of experience, the experts at Capitol Chimney have specialized equipment and knowledge to clean any type of fireplace or chimney. If you don’t clean your chimney regularly, or correctly, you can face costly repairs and increase your risk of a house fire. Dirty chimneys can even cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

So contact Capital Chimney. We’ll get your chimney as clean as possible – and ensure you’re safe while we do it.