We had really nice weather today, so when I got home from work, I took the opportunity to clean the wood stove chimney. If you use a wood burning appliance, the chimney needs to be cleaned at least once a year to remove any soot and creosote build up. It is important because creosote is flammable and creosote build up is a recipe for a chimney fire, which is really dangerous. In addition to yearly cleaning, the chimney should be inspected every two weeks during heating season.
Creosote is formed when wood smoke condenses on the inside of a cool chimney. This can happen if the wood stove is running too cold, or the chimney is improperly installed. A modern wood burning appliance should have no visible smoke when it is running properly. This means that all the smoke is being burning in the firebox, so it cannot condense on the chimney. Every wood stove has an optimum working temperature range. Our little Condar Chimgard magnetic thermometer and placed it on top of the stove to check its temperature.
In addition, a properly installed chimney is the engine that drives the stove. A chimney that is the wrong diameter will never heat up and will not draft properly. Similarly, a chimney that is too short will also not draft properly. Both of these conditions will cause the wood stove not to work properly. For our stove, Jotul specifies a 6-inch inside diameter chimney at least 14 feet tall.
It is inevitable that some creosote will form on a chimney when the stove is first starting. That is why it needs to be cleaned every year. When the wood stove was installed, I replaced the old chimney with Simpson DuraTech Class A chimney. The stove connector pipe (goes between the chimney and the stove) is double wall Simpson DVL. The double wall connector pipe allows closer clearances than single wall pipe. I like both products.
To clean the chimney requires a little planning. First, there is a cast iron baffle in the top of the Jotul F-100 stove that needs to be removed and cleaned. It is a little difficult to get out of the stove, but it does come out. Once it is out of the way, it is time to go up on the roof. I used a chimney brush to clean out a slight buildup of brownish black soot.
The larger particles fell into the back of the firebox and were vacuumed out. By properly using the wood stove, there was not noticeable creosote.
Update: This was posted over five years ago and the procedure and results remain the same. By using the stove top thermometer, the chimney remains clear of creosote and is very easy to brush out once a year.