HOW WE CLEAN THE CHIMNEY ON OUR WOODSTOVE from Theresa
Having a wood stove has been a wonderful back up heating source for us, in spite of the extra work involved when compared to just turning up the thermostat. One additional chore involved with wood stoves is that you need to clean the chimney regularly. This isn't a trivial thing. If you don’t keep the chimney clean and creosote builds up in it, it can catch on fire. Chimney fires, I’ve read, are so hot that they are likely to burn down your entire house once they've started. We have a newer woodstove (bought in 2010) that burns pretty efficiently, so we've been told we probably only need to get the chimney cleaned once every other year, but we do it annually, just in case. Other people I know with older stoves clean their’s several times during the wood burning season.
It seemed to me that in order for our wood stove to truly be part of our self-sufficient lifestyle, we would need to learn to clean it ourselves, because using it without cleaning it is not an option. Additionally, it’s been costing us about $200 to get our chimney cleaned by a professional. This is a big expense for us, so we wanted to learn to do it ourselves to save money.
For a couple years we had professionals do the cleaning. We asked them to teach us what they were doing and took a lot of pictures. The first year we tried to do it ourselves we were defeated before we barely began because we couldn't even get the screws out to take apart the pipe. They just kept spinning and we ended up calling the professionals again. The second year we managed to complete the process, but not without problems, such as the brush getting stuck at the top of the chimney.
Click below to see a pdf of the instructions that I've written up to help us remember from year to year how to clean our chimney. We obviously don't pretend to know everything about this, so I recommend reading other sources before you try cleaning yours yourself. Hopefully these instructions will give you an idea of what you need to learn. We also think it's a good idea to have the professionals come out every few years anyway, because they would probably notice problems with our stove before we would.