Cleaning a Chimney or Flue

Failure in cleaning a chimney or flue can either cause a fire inside it or decrease efficiency of the heater. Heavy accumulation of creosote on walls of a chimney can prevent escape of smoke properly and cause subsequent leaks of toxic fumes of carbon monoxide. Besides that, if the accumulated creosote accidentally catches fire, it would combust intensely and may cause damage to structure of the chimney. Therefore, regular cleaning of chimneys in an industrial unit is essential.

There are basically two standard ways of cleaning a chimney, from top to down and from bottom to up. With the first method, the furnace requires to be covered. A sheet of metal or plywood may be used for covering off. Next, the person climbs up on the roof using a ladder. It is important for him to anchor himself using safety gears to avoid accidents. The flue cowl, if there is any, is removed. After that, a flue brush is used to scrub the inner walls of the flue from its top for removing creosote and debris. Brushes for this purpose are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. One needs to make sure that bristle area of the brush being used must be a bit more than the diameter of the flue. Additional detachable poles or rods may be added to the handle of the brush for better access. This process is also known as ‘cleaner’ method, but must be carried out only by someone who is professionally trained for working at heights.

The bottom to up method requires a person to lie inside the place of the furnace. Undoubtedly, it will leave the person, who is doing the cleaning, in complete mess. However, this method is much safer than the ‘cleaner’ technique. Before starting, it is better to remove anything that might be damaged by the soot. At first, the damper is opened and then, a suitable flue brush is rammed up right through the flue. After that, the inner walls are scrubbed slowly to remove the creosote build up. The process is repeated as many times as required to eliminate all the accumulated creosote and debris.

It is important for the person doing the cleaning work to wear protective gears before initiation, such as eye protection, a full faced breathing mask and rubber gloves. Likewise, the furnace should be completely extinguished prior to beginning with the work.

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