Cleaning A Woodstove Chimney

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.

Condar Chimgard Thermometer on top of wood stove

Condar Chimgard Thermometer on top of wood stove

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.

Simpson Duratech class A chimney

Simpson Duratech class A chimney

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.

Chimney cleaning brush

Chimney cleaning brush

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.

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7 comments to Cleaning A Woodstove Chimney

  • joe

    Good Job, thanks for the post!

  • Joe D.

    Thanks for this info. I see in the photo that you are using a steel-wire chimney brush. I’ve heard that these can cause scratches in the interior stainless liner of insulated chimney sections. These scratches could be starting points for corrosion that ultimately shortens the life of the chimney. I use a poly brush for my chimney. It’s just as stiff as the steel brush, but won’t scratch the liner.

  • pro chimney sweep

    Joe is right a metal wire brush damages the flue, use a poly brush! You can use the wire brush on the connecter pipe if you want. Also that fan updraft idea is unique but there is a chance you can push soot, (with the pressure of the brush) into the house.

  • Another tip is to clean while the chimney is still warm, as the creosote will come off easier. Obviously you’ll have to use your best judgement on the temperatures!

  • Brendan mackey

    I have a wood stove insert and I want to clean the soot off the stones surrounding the insert . Left from the pervious home owner before I put the insert in. Subbing it with oven cleaner has worked a bit but mainly has just spread the soot around. Do you have any suggestions for other cleaners or solvents that could work

  • Jim


    I have a question regarding cleaning the chimney of a wood stove. I did the cleaning procedure with a poly brush from the top and then I went inside and realized that there is no easy opening to the flue, so I don’t know where the creosote dust dropped down to. Do I need to take the wood stove apart and get at the flue? It’s a wood stove insert.


  • kathykohrs

    I own at rented cabin with a Franklin stove. Someone spilled something on the outside top and sides, and did not clean it. I have been trying to peck away at getting it clean. I am concerned with the finish on the stove which is highly lacurid, but I do not want to penatrate the surface. Any suggestions on cleaning. I think it might be coffee, hot choc. or something of that nature, left after the spill, and not cleaned up. I have tried fantasik, and it has worked somewhat. Should I try heat and then clean… ? thank you for your help. kathy kohrs

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