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DIY chimney brush...

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Jay H, Feb 14, 2008.

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  1. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Seems like most of the chimney brush rods use 1/4" NPT thread, I'm considering if I can use some old but good quality tent stakes and epoxy a 1/4" pipe thread on the end for use in a basic 6" round poly brush. I presume the chimney brush rod is male and the actual brushes are female? Just looking at hardware to buy.

    I figure if I can use some old tent stakes, it would save about $30 and all I'd have to buy is the brush itself. I can take some rope and tie it to the brush as a b/u system too... Just checking out the hardware since I've never seen a rod kit before...

    Jay

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  2. kevin fitzsimmons

    kevin fitzsimmons New Member

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    My fiberglass brush rods are much more rigid than tent stakes. i would not want to have a brush and length of rod broken off somewhere in the flu. a small rope tied to the bush might be an insurance policy on getting the brush out. And yes, much brushes are both male ends, but different npt thread size. i used a reducing coupler and it seems to work
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The threads on the brushes are male. The homeowner models are 1/4" NPT but the pro models are 3/8" NPT.
  4. Cazimere

    Cazimere Member

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    BB's right. I was all set to disagree. Glad i ran out and looked at mine before i shot my big yap off : )
  5. lvfd50

    lvfd50 New Member

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    I would say just look for a bruch and the rods at the end of the season when they are discounted. I managed to get mine a few years back at Home Depot and I think I spent less than $30 total and that included a set of rods, a 6" brush and an 8" brush. Just didn't seem worth not buying it all. Much easier than building.
  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    As I've mentioned before, cheapest rods around are in the Electrical department, mis-labeled as 1/2" non-metalic conduit! (the grey PVC stuff) at Home Cheapo they are about $2 each in 10' lengths. Stop in the plumbing dept and get a can of PVC cement and an adapter or two to fit the brush. The conduit has one end that is "belled" to slide into the next peice, normally this would be glued w/ PVC cement, but in this case you don't want to do that. Instead slide the two parts together and drill a hole at right angles through the bell to fit a #10 or 1/4-20 bolt and nut - this will hold the peices together, but allow disassembly.

    The result is a rod that is plenty stiff enough to push a brush up the chimney (I clean from the bottom, I'm sure it would push down from above just as easily if you go that way...) but has enough flex to make a 90* bend in about an 18" space without problems.

    I found the cheapest prices for the brushes was to get them through the "ship to store" option on the Ace Hardware store website. These brushes have a male pipe thread on one end, 1/4" NPT as I recall, and a rope eye on the other. I put the threaded end on my home made rod, and tie a length of poly rope to the eye as a safety measure - if the rod should break, I can pull the brush out with the rope, which is much less embarrasing than having to call a sweep to fish it out...

    Gooserider
  7. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Thanks Goose, I've thought of that option and I have PVC cement already. I can check out the NMC and see what I can make. My flue is really simple, it's about 15' of straight 6" Stainless Steel double wall flue.

    I just checked ACE hardware and although there isn't one really close to me, there is a couple that would be a short drive. However, their Poly Brush (rutland) isn't marked as whether it's a 6" or 8". I need a 6" one:

    http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1276012&clickid=body_rv_img

    I've emailed them so I'll wait to hear what they say. (You aren't by chance the 'Art T' who reviewed it, as it does say Lowell, MA :) ? )

    Anyway, neither the Home Depot nor the Lowes near me carry any kind of chimney cleaning stuff and I'm not convenient to any Tractor Supply Store which for me would be way up by Sussex, NJ...

    Jay
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I am the reviewer... :coolsmile: As I recollect the size shows up where you select the "options" as you put the brush in your cart. It isn't real obvious but it's there. I've been happy with the stuff I've gotten from ACE, and it is surprising how often things are cheaper there with the "ship to store" option as opposed to some of the stove shops once you figure in the shipping costs.

    Gooserider
  9. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Yes, indeedy, I didn't even think of looking at the shopping cart items... I bought the 6" poly and had it shipped to my local Ace. I'll bring the brush with me when I go looking for NMC and fittings at the local hardware store.

    Thanks again,
    Jay
  10. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    OK, picked up the 6" poly brush at the Ace, also checked out their NMC. They do not make a 1/4" NMC so it does look like the 1/2" lengths are the way to go. I will pick up 2 10' lengths as I need 15' and the only way I could get the 1/4" female NPT to the 1/2 NMC was to make three joints, a endcap threaded to a 1/2" male then a reducing coupler to reduce the 1/2" male to 1/4" male and then a basic 1/4" male-female adaptor for the chimney brush.

    I am looking online to see if I can reduce the parts content but it looks like it may be the only way to go. I will tie some rope on the brush and through the NMC as a backup in case of breakage and I'll be good to go!

    Jay
  11. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    1/2" is the desired size on the conduit. If I recall correctly, what I used on my setup was a female 1/2" PVC pipe to 1/2" NPT coupler, (white PVC from the plumbing dept, not electrical stuff) and then a black iron 1/2" NPT -1/4" NPT reducing bushing - two parts... For the rope, I tied it to the eye on the brush, kind of ran it down through the bristles, and then tied a couple of half hitches around the conduit just below the brush, then just let the rope hang next to it.

    Gooserider
  12. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Woohoo, yup, I found the black iron reducing bushing that is 1/2" male to 1/4" female and then found a pvc 1/2" female adaptor at the local HD. So a 20' length of 1/2" NMC and the 2 connectors is a whopping $4.78 (inc tax). Nice! I am going to install that tonight with a spare nut and bolt. I wont cut the end til I figure out exactly how long I need...

    Jay
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Sounds good... I did find it useful to "Key" my joints (I have 3 segments in my 30' pole) by numbering them with a Sharpie, and putting index lines on the pipes so that I could repeatably line up my holes - this saved the effort of trying to jig something up to make them perfectly square and interchangeable... I also didn't cut my conduits, as I found the extra length was good as a handle and made them fit on my storage rack better, however I did put a mark on the rod so that I was sure when I'd actually gone through and not just hit a "clean spot" - I have a hard stop at the end of my chimney as the brush hits the underside of the bolted down chimney cap...

    Gooserider
  14. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Cool... Have you thought about uploading and making a wiki on this? I just checked out the Wiki section here and didn't see an entry. I figure there's got to be a lot more than you and I trying to make an inexpensive chimney brush.

    the parts are in my head and I can take some pictures of the parts and my assembly...

    I can do a quick one and give you credit on it, seemingly since I kind of borrowed your idea...

    Jay
  15. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    The way I see it is why Mickey Mouse a chimney brush when the money you save the 1st time you use quality tools will pay for the equipment? Call for prices on a chimney cleaning and I think if you buy top quality tools they will pay for themselves the 1st you use them.. Just something to think about...

    Ray
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    That would be great, as I think that it's a way to make a tool that is at least as good as the rod setups are, and at a much better price.

    Raybonz, I agree on the virtues of buying quality tools, but I'm not at all convinced that the fiberglass rods available at the local hardware store fit that description... At the same time, I can't really justify the cost of the several hundred dollar one peice coiled rod that my professional sweep uses... I actually feel more comfortable using my NMT conduit rod, as I don't have the threaded couplers to come apart on me, and I have fewer joints to fail... Not all "Mickey Mouse" is bad...

    Gooserider
  17. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    I paid for a chimney cleaning last year since it was my first winter burning. A couple of reasons, I thought it would be nice to see how a professional does it and twice, I had no experience with burning wood and wondered how well I was doing. Well literally, it was quite enlightening because of how clean my flue was. Last summer when I had my Quad installed, I really studied these forums for a good 4 months before I had to start burning (I bought 2 cords last year, this year I split my own). Speaking to the cleaners (the same guys who installed my stove), they said to keep doing whatever I was doing because the flue was very clean. They have a pro shop-vac but they cleaned it as I thought they would (from the top-down). As I mentioned I have a pretty easy flue to clean, a 15' straight pipe right to the top of my stove so considering the ease of it, doesn't make sense to pay somebody else. Even the two guys who cleaned it told me that I'm better off just doing it myself. My roof is very easy to get up (I live in a ranch) too.

    Looking at chimney rod kits, I would need 3 8' sections at about $8 a pop, for $24 + tax, seeing that I made mine for $5, and I need nothing fancy, I see no reason to buy something when one can be made for less. Surely mine probably weights a bit more than a fiberglass rod set but that's OK, I probably would only clean once a year. That's money that could be better spent elsewhere.

    Goose: finished putting it all together last night, looks nice, took pictures, but I'll have to write up something and produce a parts list soon... Then I'll see how to upload a wiki for it.

    DIY is not for everybody but for those that do, this will make things easier.

    Jay
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Sounds great, glad it worked out for you... Look forward to seeing the Wiki article

    Gooserider
  19. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Hey Goose,
    I have been using my fiberglass rods for 15 yrs. and they work just fine for me.. I am an electrician by trade and have access to all the emt, rigid, pvc I want but it doesn't offer the flexibility and rigidity that the fiberglass rods offer plus the shorter lengths are easier to deal with on the roof.. Trust me I have seen plenty of pvc conduit crack especially in cooler weather plus it lacks backbone when you really have to push.. That's just my take on things, ultimately the choice is yours..

    Good Luck,
    Ray
  20. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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  21. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Very well done overall. You did it a little different than I did mine, either way will work. IMHO you added some extra things that didn't need to be done - perhaps you could mark those steps as optional?

    I didn't bother with trying to snake the rope inside the conduit, and other than keeping the rope clean, don't see any real advantage to doing so. If something were to break or come apart, the brush is the only thing that would be stuck, everything else will either fall back out of the chimney or come out with the brush. (If cleaning from the bottom. If cleaning from the top it might be good assuming you couldn't retrieve broken bits from the bottom if needed) Since holes are potential weak spots that can fail, I probably wouldn't do it on principle.

    I would NOT use any form of glue other than PVC pipe cement - this is a "solvent weld" product that works by literally disolving a part of each component so that they flow into each other and fuse together - the resulting joint is nearly as strong as the original pipe itself - no need to back it up with a bolt. OTOH "Gorrilla Glue" and other such products are adhesive film products that work by sticking to each surface - PVC is not intended to be glued in this way, and the joint will NOT be strong or durable... I used the bolts to hold the NON-glued joints together only, the glued joints don't need them.

    I didn't use threadlocker - if you use wrenches to screw the adapters and brush together I don't think it's needed, and it makes it harder to take the unit apart later - I find storage is easiest if I take the brush apart when done and put the brush back in it's box which I store in one place, and the pipes in the same rack that I use to store other "long skinny stuff" This also makes it easier if you have multiple chimneys with different flue sizes, and have to change brushes...

    The number of bolts and nuts you need is a function of how many sections of pipe you need, and if using more than two peices, it is helpful to number or label the ends in the same way that you "key" them with the Sharpie so that they go together the same way every time. I numbered the far end of the brush section as "1A" the end of the next section that connected to it as "1B" then the next joint as "2A" and "2B", etc.. (as needed) but any scheme you feel comfortable with would work.

    My build sequence was slightly different - I started by gluing the PVC adapter to the conduit, then screwed the metal adapter into it, and then put the brush on... This doesn't really make a lot of difference, but I generally find it is better if you can build by adding small parts onto a large assembly as opposed to making two large assemblies and putting them together.

    I didn't cut my excess PVC off, rather I left the 5' additional that I had left over on to use as a handle, but I DID put a line on it at the point where it was entering the liner and the brush was all the way through the chimney and out the top, that way I'll know in the future just how far I have to push the brush to get it done...

    None of these are really major points, other than possibly the glue issue, so once again, great job...

    Gooserider
  22. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Thanks, I had a really old tin of PVC Cement but when I finally got the lid open everything was hard as shellac. It's a backup and I've used NMC before in the application of building a ski pulk (a sled being pulled by XC skis). I've had friends who have pulled 60lb weights in below zero temperatures when winter backpacking and they've held up fine. it's the hard PVC that gets real brittle and can break if you fall on it. I made a ski pulk but I used EMT conduit and an EMT bender.

    I ran the rope through the NMC just because I like the clean look of it, I don't think I'll ever need to remove the brush from the first rod so I ran it through, the second rod would be a PITA if you had to snake it through all the time and perhaps you can just leave the rope as is. It's just a guideline, perhaps a "proof of concept" that folks can get ideas from... that's how I make a lot of things, scrounge ideas off the internet and customize it to my own use. I've made a Kayak cart and my own kayak storage system that way. I've made bike stands, and other various things...

    Jay
  23. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

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    Hi -

    Great thread guys. I loke the PVC for my chimney on my schedule. In cold weather (sub-freezing) on someone elses roof I use steel conduit for ther reason Ray offered. PVC cracks when cold and fatigued.

    ATB,
    Mike P
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