Chimney Clean Out Door on Exterior

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Ejay1

New Member
Sep 22, 2021
3
USA
My house has an older fireplace and chimney built in the mid 60's. I would like to use it with spending a fortune rebuilding it. The firebox is a heatilator style. It is a premanufactured metal insert that the mason built the brick around. It is double walled and has several large pipes that pass over the area just below the damper. Air flows in the doubled walled space near the floor, up and around the firebox, through the pipes and out a vent above the firebox. The damper is nearly impossible to take apart because the pipes are in the way and I believe there is hardware up above that would need to be removed.

It was inspected by a sweep and he pointed out a number of issues.

The biggest problem is that it is very difficult to access the smoke chamber to clean it, inspect it, etc. I've inspected the whole chimney with a camera and it appears to be in decent shape. The firebox has no signs of rust and there are no noticeable leaks in the airflow of the heatilator.

The most pressing issue is that there is a lot a creosote build up in the smoke chamber and a ton of material that has been collecting on the smoke shelf.

If I have access to the smoke chamber I will be able to matenience the chimney much more effectively. Is it safe to cut a squre hole in the exterior of the chimney at the smoke shelf level and add a cast iron chimney clean out door?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,487
central pa
My house has an older fireplace and chimney built in the mid 60's. I would like to use it with spending a fortune rebuilding it. The firebox is a heatilator style. It is a premanufactured metal insert that the mason built the brick around. It is double walled and has several large pipes that pass over the area just below the damper. Air flows in the doubled walled space near the floor, up and around the firebox, through the pipes and out a vent above the firebox. The damper is nearly impossible to take apart because the pipes are in the way and I believe there is hardware up above that would need to be removed.

It was inspected by a sweep and he pointed out a number of issues.

The biggest problem is that it is very difficult to access the smoke chamber to clean it, inspect it, etc. I've inspected the whole chimney with a camera and it appears to be in decent shape. The firebox has no signs of rust and there are no noticeable leaks in the airflow of the heatilator.

The most pressing issue is that there is a lot a creosote build up in the smoke chamber and a ton of material that has been collecting on the smoke shelf.

If I have access to the smoke chamber I will be able to matenience the chimney much more effectively. Is it safe to cut a squre hole in the exterior of the chimney at the smoke shelf level and add a cast iron chimney clean out door?
No you would either have to cut through the metal smoke chamber or the clay liner. Neither is acceptable
 

Ejay1

New Member
Sep 22, 2021
3
USA
How do I clean the smoke shelf and smoke chamber?

The smoke chamber is very large and about 5-6' tall. The smoke shelf is blocked by a damper that I cannot remove.
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
122
SW Montana
It might not work in your situation, but I had a neighbor who used a shop vac with PVC pipe extender to clean his smoke shelf from the roof every year. You might be able to fashion suitable cleaning tools for the brushing with the help of your camera.

I've never seen a fireplace that anybody wanted to actually use that much - they're just so effective at cooling the house off, so you probably wouldn't have to do the job all that often. My neighbor had a stove on his chimney, but didn't seem to mind the annual, roof based, cleaning job.
 

Ejay1

New Member
Sep 22, 2021
3
USA
The pvc may be possible. I’m thinking I hang a long shop vac line down from above then move it around from below. Just sucks because of how messy it is in there.

For cleaning the smoke chamber I’m thinking I use one of those drill powered rotary whip brushes. Anyone have experience with those?

My fireplace is a heatilator which helps keep some of the heat in the house. I have NG to supplement but I really enjoy having an open flame in my living room. My favorite place in the house to eat dinner on a cold winter night is right in front of the fireplace. Its not the same as a wood burning stove.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,487
central pa
The pvc may be possible. I’m thinking I hang a long shop vac line down from above then move it around from below. Just sucks because of how messy it is in there.

For cleaning the smoke chamber I’m thinking I use one of those drill powered rotary whip brushes. Anyone have experience with those?

My fireplace is a heatilator which helps keep some of the heat in the house. I have NG to supplement but I really enjoy having an open flame in my living room. My favorite place in the house to eat dinner on a cold winter night is right in front of the fireplace. Its not the same as a wood burning stove.
Yes a rotary cleaner is the only option that will work. It is just a horrible design and honestly you can only do so much with them. After you get the shelf cleaned off check it closely for rust.