Our other sites:

 How to sweep a chimney bottom to top

Shop for Drain and Chimney Rods


Wonkee Donkee Sweeping up or down your chimney to remove blockages and tar There are two methods for sweeping your chimney using chimney rods: The top to bottom method and the bottom to the top method.

Bottom to top method

Wonkee Donkee Measuring the Chimney prior to sweeping your chimney

Step 1 – Measure your chimney

Measuring your chimney will allow you to choose the correct sized brush needed to clean it.

It is important to get an idea of what your chimney is like because there are many chimney brushes available, including round, square or rectangular in a variety of sizes from 50mm to around 300mm (2″ to 12″).

Wonkee Donkee Inspecting the Chimney prior to sweeping the chimney

Step 2 – Inspect chimney

If it has been a while since the last time you used your chimney, or if you have just moved into the house, check for animals before you begin cleaning.

Birds and squirrels have been known to make their homes in chimneys, so shine a bright torch up the chimney from the fireplace and if you find an animal, take the appropriate steps to have it removed.

Wonkee Donkee Scratch the chimney to determine how much sweeping will be required Whilst inspecting the chimney for animals, it is also a good idea to check to see how much creosote/tar has built up within the chimney. This will determine the type of brush that you will need and the amount of brushing required.

The easiest way to do this is to scratch the inside of the chimney or chimney liner to be cleaned using a fire poker or something similar.

Wonkee Donkee Blocked Chimney due to not being swept as often as was required Some chimneys can actually become reduced in places due to creosote buildup.

When a chimney is blocked to this extent it will require the use of specialist tools and should be done by a professional chimney sweep.

Wonkee Donkee Lay out Tarpaulin prior to sweeping the chimney

Step 3 – Prepare room

Lay a tarpaulin or dust sheet over the hearth and spread it into the room to protect the carpet.Shop for Dust Sheets & Dust Covers

Wonkee Donkee Prepare the room prior to sweeping the chimney Select the brush to use and connect it to a chimney rod, then cut a slit in the centre of a polythene sheet or tarpaulin and poke the rod through.

Tape the sheet around the fireplace to make a screen, with the brush pushed slightly up the chimney. This will protect the room from any displaced soot and the rod protruding from the sheet held in place by the brush pushed slightly up the chimney makes it easy to add additional rods as you sweep up the chimney.

Wonkee Donkee Cowls need to be removed prior to sweeping

Step 4 – Remove cowl from chimney

Some chimneys and flues have a chimney cowl fitted, which helps to prevent wind blowing the smoke back down into the room below.

They also have a secondary purpose of preventing birds or other animals from making nests in the chimney.

Wonkee Donkee Removing Cowl before sweeping the chimney If your chimney has a cowl fitted, it should be removed to ensure the whole of the chimney length is swept clean. Most cowls simply lift off or have a couple of bolts to loosen before removal.
Wonkee Donkee Choose the right brush when sweeping a chimney

Step 5 – Choose right brush

Always match the shape of the chimney lining to the shape of the brush. If the chimney has a round flue liner fitted, the brush should be round.

The brush should be 15mm (0.5″) wider than the chimney.

Wonkee Donkee Sweeping the Chimney from the bottom of the fireplace upwards

Step 6 – Begin sweeping upwards

Working from behind the screen, push and pull the brush up and down the chimney vigorously, one metre at a time.

If the chimney is round, ensure you twist the rods in a clockwise direction as you push and pull the rods up the chimney. This dislodges the soot and creosote.

It’s worth spending a few minutes on each metre of chimney (approx 1 rod length).

Wonkee Donkee Adding Rods to enable you to sweep the whole length of the chimney As the brush moves up the chimney, continue to add rods until the you are able to brush up the entire length of the chimney.
Wonkee Donkee Brush sticking out of chimney shows you have swept the entire length of the chimney or flue Finally the brush should burst out of the chimney pot.

Go outside and check that it’s sticking out; if it is then you have swept the whole chimney length.

Wonkee Donkee Sweeping down chimney to ensure a thorough job has been done

Step 7 – Sweep down towards fireplace

Once you have seen the brush sticking from the top of the chimney it is time to start working your way back down.

Follow the same procedure as before, only this time sweep down the chimney, removing the rods as you go (remember to continue to turn the rods clockwise to prevent them from disconnecting).

Wonkee Donkee Refit Cowl after the chimney has been swept

Step 8 – Refit cowl to chimney

Refit the cowl to the chimney, tightening any bolts that were loosened to remove it.

Wonkee Donkee Soot and Creosote in fireplace after chimney has been swept

Step 9 – Dislodged soot and creosote

The soot and creosote from the chimney should have collected at the bottom of the fireplace.

Wonkee Donkee Clean Up after sweeping the chimney or flue

Step 10 – Finish job

Use a brush and dustpan to clean up the debris from the fireplace.

Finally, remove the dust sheets and vacuum around the fireplace.