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Flue brush and rods - where to get?

Post in 'The Gear' started by Gooserider, Apr 19, 2007.

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  1. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    The stove is starting to back puff on me when I go to load it, think I may be getting clogged?

    Last year I waited till the end of the season and called a sweep, which I think is good to do once a year anyways for the inspection part, but I'm thinking I really ought to get a brush and some rods so that I can have a go at it during the season as well...

    Looking around, I find the brushes are mostly similar, but they really seem to bend you over on rods. I need a flexible rod as I have to clean from the bottom - my dream would be one of those "viper" systems (it is what our sweep uses) but I'm hoping that I can do it with regular rods I also have a fairly tall chimney - estimated 23+ feet, so I need a lot of rods.

    Best deal I've actually found was at McMaster Carr - but they had a couple of strange variants, and I wanted to get opinions before I spent money I shouldn't have...

    search on "chimney"

    I have an SS liner so I need a poly brush - they don't have one that is only 6" but they offer a "Tampico" brush for $10.24 - What is "Tampico" and would it work?

    They also seem to offer the best deal on rods - a 6 foot, flexible, "twisted steel" rod for 8.96 - this is about the same as the best price other shops are offering on a 4 foot fiberglass rod... Any reason not to use a steel rod?

    Anybody have any place with better prices to suggest?

    I've also tried, Northern, Ace Hardware, Northline, and Woodstove Outlet. My local True Value has rods, but only carries steel brushes.

    Gooserider

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  2. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I picked up my 6" at Lowes and my 8X8 at the local True Value. Rods came from both places.

    Matt
  3. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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    It is a natural plant fiber. Depending on harvesting practices and wear properties it may be better then an oil based product.
    http://www.tampicofiber.net/
  4. Bill

    Bill Minister of Fire

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    Menards
  5. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

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    Hi I use 10' sections of common electrical conduit. Very inexpensive and effective.

    ATB,
    Mike P
  6. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I got my rods and brush from Redhill General Store. $28 for 18' ( 6x3' ) of fiberglass rod, $10.50 for 6" poly brush. The rods are not all that flexible, I think 45 degrees over a short section would be pushing it. The brush is exceedingly stiff. Together, I can't see how I'll clean from the bottom without removing the secondary burn tubes, and even then it would be a pain.
  7. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I use pvc conduit - dirt cheap, and somewhat flexible. You would laugh at how I attached the brush to the conduit, but it works great. Harbor frieght sells these "quick couplers" (for air tools) for $1.99, they fit perfectly to the thread on the rutland poly brush (sold at Lowes and Home Depot), I put the other side of the quick connect into the PVC pipe - this was not very difficult - used a dremel to create a good fit, added some epoxy, finished with a little duct tape. Works very well. You could create virtually any length brush this way, but make sure you really secure the brush because you don't want it getting stuck in the middle of the chimney! (never happened to me)
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well it looks like the 1/2" conduit has enough flex to get around the corner into my flue, so I picked up three 10' lengths of it today, went over to the plumbing dept, and got a 1/2" pvc - 1/2" NPT coupler and a 1/2" - 1/4" NPT reducer bushing to secure the brush onto the conduit. Total cost for a 30' rod looks like about $5.00 :coolgrin: I'm not sure how I'll hold the rod sections together, as I don't want to glue them (what do you do with a 30' rod when it's not in the chimney?) but I'll try duct tape and see how that does. If that doesn't work, I'll try going back for some PVC male and female threaded pipe couplings and glue them on the ends of the conduit. I'm not real worried, as I will definitely attach a rope to the brush, and as long as I can push it up the chimney, I can just drag it back down with the rope if I have to...

    The brush is a bit more of a challenge - Home Depot is out, or at least the one we went to is. However I think the easiest approach is just to order one through Ace Hardware - they were just about the cheapest in any case.

    The other thing that they have on the Ace site was what looked like a version of the much talked about Wood Grenade. It was a bit expensive at $18.99, but it was made by ESTWING - the hammer folks so it should be really high quality, not the more common "China cast chit iron"

    Of course it's starting to look like by the time I get everything the burning season will be over...

    Gooserider
  9. Bones

    Bones Member

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    "duct tape" ? No way.
  10. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    Oh boy, now they're going to have to re-write the book... 1002 ways to use duct tape...
  11. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    OK, not sure I see why the issue with duct tape? The conduit I purchased is the grey stuff with a molded "bell" on one end to connect the lengths. In the past when I've used conduit, those bells made a fairly snug fit - enough so that it was a struggle to disassemble a test fit so it could be glued up (especially if one didn't sand the end first...)

    Obviously if I'm sticking the ends together, there will be no issue in pushing the brush UP the chimney, the question is pulling it back down. If I'd glued the lengths together it would be no problem, but I don't want to have a 30' long rod to deal with - 10' lengths are bad enough! I don't know of a useful "temporary" glue, so I was thinking that wrapping the assembled joints with duct tape, which has a pretty good shear resistance, should hold the connections together long enough to pull the brush back down, but allow disassembly afterwards.

    As a backup, I intend to tie a rope to the brush (which has an eye on the top end) so that I can still pull the brush down even if the conduit does come apart - I might even pull mostly on the rope so that the conduit isn't under that much stress... So again what's the issue with duct tape in this application?

    Remember, I'm trying to do this on the cheap, especially the first time when I want to see if it works - going out to get threaded connectors to screw the conduit sections together defeats that purpose a bit. IF it works, I might get the connectors to use in the future.

    Gooserider
  12. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    One end fits inside the other right? 15 cents for a bolt and nut, one drill hole later, and you won't even have to deal with the mess of "un-duct taping". Good idea to use those pvc fittings to attach the brush by the way, I just used what I already had in my basement at the time, but if I had been at the hardware store I would have done it that way.
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Perfect! That is a great suggestion as I'm sure I've got plenty of hardware to do it with already in the garage...

    Gooserider
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Why fix the PVC together in the first place? Turn the brush upside down. Attach the rope to the loop on the brush. Run the rope through the PVC. As you push the brush up the chimney keep the rope taught which will hold the PVC sections together. When you reach the top drop the PVC sections down off the rope.

    When the PVC is back out of the pipe just pull the damn brush back down with the rope. :cheese:
  15. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    Gooserider,
    You're not that far from me, you're welcome to drop by some time and try out a wood grenade if you want.

    And keep us posted on your adventure in sweeping - I'll be following in your footsteps shortly !!!


    Oh yeah - my stove started to back puff a month or so back. I climbed up on the roof and pulled the cap - the pipe wasn't too bad, but the mesh on the cap was really pretty clogged up. a few minutes work with a putty knife and I was back in business.

    probably don't need to burn today, but if you want to fix things up a bit before the colder weather at the end of the week, you could check your cap.


    -Dan in Burlington
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    BB- I figure I might want to do some back and forth "scrubbing action" as I'm going up and down the chimney. Your idea of threading the rope through the pipes is good (though threading it could be a pain) but might make it harder to work the brush back and forth.

    TnB - The GF has ordered the Estwing version of the Wood Grenade that I saw at Ace, should be here in a few days, maybe we can arrange a "showdown" once it gets here... I have seen the many threads discussing cap screen clogs, and have been keeping an eye on it from the ground, but I don't think it's a problem on our cap fortuneately! Reason is that I can look through part of the screens and see what's on the other side of the cap from the ground - I figure if I can see light through them, the smoke can get through! They don't even look noticeably thicker than they did when first installed.

    This is a good thing, as you may have seen from my earlier posts describing my chimney setup - it is basically one that you can't get to. (7' from roof to chimney top, comes out the middle of a 45* pitch roof) I need the "chicken ladders" that others have desribed, but am still trying to figure out how one is supposed to mount them on an asphalt shingle roof w/o causing leaks or the potential for ice dams in the winter... This is the entire reason for the question about the rods and all that - If I could clean from the top, I wouldn't be having all this trouble!

    Gooserider
  17. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    I hear you - I don't like roofs much myself. when I go up their I wear my climbing gear, and either have my GF belay me or tie myself off and self belay. My roof isn't that bad really, but if I did happen to take a tumble, the electrical service is the most likely thing to break my fall !!!

    Frankly I'd rather hit the ground at full speed !!!!


    -Dan
  18. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Dan how'd that monster heat the house this season?
  19. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    Hey GVA,

    that "Monster" did awesome! better even than I hoped. even on the coldest day, I could keep that room in the low to mid 70's with the beast mostly damped down. I even got in the habit of loading her up first thing in the morning and letting her burn all day while I was away at work. Coming home from work to red coals, a house in the mid 60's and knowing your boiler didn't fire all day - is a pretty great feeling.

    Heat - as heat will do - had a pretty easy time of flowing up to the bedrooms as well, particularly if I was around to feed the stove. my bedroom was usually in the low to mid 60's - which is where I like it for sleeping anyway.

    I still need to improve some things in the house to the most bang for my buck. That big picture window near the stove is pretty inefficient, and considering that it's 10 FEET wide... I'm losing a ton of heat there. And I'd like to add some more insulation to my attic and walls - but now that is more just because I know I should than that I have too.

    I was talking to a neighbor the other day - he has the same style of house, built around the same time, so like mine, not a whole lot of insulation. he had gas bills of $400-$500. My worst was $180. And that included a couple of weekends and a part of a week that I wasn't home to burn!

    -Dan
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well, I got everything, and have done my very first cleaning... :coolsmile: Overall it went pretty well, and I thank everyone for their suggestions.

    The brush I used was a 6" Rutland Poly from Ace Hardware which seemed to work quite nicely. My only gripe is the picture on the website showed the brush as red, but what I got was a black brush - A red brush would have been easier to see when standing on the ground and trying to look for whether you've gotten through the chimney and are in the space under the cap. It has a 1/4" NPT male thread on the bottom, and a pull ring on the top. (I used both, though I didn't really need to.)

    I used three sections of 1/2" plastic electrical conduit for a rod, far cheaper than the official rods, and (barely) flexible enough. To adapt the conduit to the brush I attached a 1/2" PVC to 1/2" NPT adapter from the plumbing section to the end of one peice of conduit, using normal PVC glue. (I know one isn't supposed to mix plumbing and conduit, but I don't consider this an application where it matters - Elk isn't inspecting it! %-P ) I then got a 1/2"-1/4" NPT pipe bushing and screwd that onto the brush, and the combo onto the conduit end. I fastened the conduit sections together by sliding them together (using the normal belled end) and then drilling a hole across the center of the bell and putting a bolt through it. This allows for incremental assembly so I don't have to deal with a 30' pole. For insurance, I tied a poly rope to the pull ring, then led it down through the bristles to the base and tied a couple of half hitches to keep it out of the way. The plan was that the rope would allow me to recover the brush if anything came loose. I didn't have any problems, so the rope ended up just being along for the ride, but I'm glad I had it.

    Once I had the setup, I pulled the cap off the bottom of the stove "T" and stuffed the brush up the pipe. Getting the brush started was probably the hardest part, It was very difficult to flex the conduit enough to get the brush going straight up the pipe, plus I got a little bit of a hangup getting the brush through the "T" - After that, things went reasonably smoothly, I got a LOT of crud out, about half filled my ash bucket, so I'm guessing about 2-3 gallons, all the black crunchy stuff, mostly in fairly large chunks.


    Photos--- First is a front view of the stove while cleaning is in process - assorted tools on the stove top, the rod is going in behind the stove from the left side.

    Attached Files:

  21. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    More photos - this is a closeup of the space I had to get into - the round thing on the bottom is the stove blower, the rest are the bricks on the back wall and hearth.

    Attached Files:

  22. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    This is a shot of the rod going up from further back, I have about 6 feet of rod up the chimney right now, and have just attached the second section of conduit.

    Attached Files:

  23. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    This is a closeup of one of the conduit joints. Since I drilled them freehand, I put an index line on each joint, and numbered which ends went together so it would be easier to get the bolts in when putting the sections together.

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  24. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    This is the pile of crud that I got viewed from the top...

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  25. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    And the same pile of crud from the side...

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