DIY Soot Eater

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30WCF

Minister of Fire
Aug 31, 2016
948
North Carolina
I’ve been using a set of rods and round brush for years to clean my own chimney.
I’ve just recently stumbled on some of your conversations about soot eaters. They seem reasonably priced, but I just couldn’t help myself from taking a stab at it.

I grabbed an old hole saw out of the coffee can and drilled (8) holes around the base and cross-threaded it onto the end of a rod to be sure it won’t come off. (Same size, different thread pitch)

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Next I cut it off, knocked all the burrs with a file, dremel and sandpaper.

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I cut long lengths of string and tied a knot in the middle and started to insert them with the knot centered and the tag end going out opposing holes. I suppose you could go in one hole and out the next to reduce the bulk inside the head. I went with shorter pieces that I melted and mushroomed on the counter top.

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I’ll give this a go next time I clean and see if what I already had laying around works.
It couldn’t have been more than a half hour to make including planning and R&D.
 
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Tried it today. I’d say I wasn’t impressed with the knock off version. Maybe it was my drill speed, maybe it was my line, maybe it was my expectations. I mean if you just want to knock the crud off and slick up the chimney, sure, it did that. I then ran my brush through and got down to bare metal.

Before knock off
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After knock off

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But the brush brought it back to metal.
This isn’t a bash of soot eater. But my home made rip off may not be up to par with my metal brush.

Would this meet your standards? I’m just used to a brush bringing it back to slightly tarnished bare steel.
 
Bummer. Thinking out loud as to why yours didn’t work out as hoped:

  1. The Sooteater has groups of five strings together thru each hole, which gives the bundle more stiffness
  2. Uses very stiff string, maxi edge hex .105”
  3. Strings are trimmed short OD - 6.5” to maintain maximum stiffnesss at bundle tip.
I listed them in the order I’d guess are most important, but have no real proof (other than end result) as to which of these matter most.
 
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Bummer. Thinking out loud as to why yours didn’t work out as hoped:

  1. The Sooteater has groups of five strings together thru each hole, which gives the bundle more stiffness
  2. Uses very stiff string, maxi edge hex .105”
  3. Strings are trimmed short OD - 6.5” to maintain maximum stiffnesss at bundle tip.
I listed them in the order I’d guess are most important, but have no real proof (other than end result) as to which of these matter most.
So, your implying that it should have come cleaner than what pictured? I don’t really know what I should have been expecting out of it.
 
So, your implying that it should have come cleaner than what pictured? I don’t really know what I should have been expecting out of it.
To be honest, I avoided answering that, because I don't know. I was going more off your disappointment with it, than any visual evaluation of my own. I'm sure others who actually look up their pipe more than me (it's been 6 years since I had my pipe off my stove) can give you a better evaluation on that.
 
To be honest, I avoided answering that, because I don't know. I was going more off your disappointment with it, than any visual evaluation of my own. I'm sure others who actually look up their pipe more than me (it's been 6 years since I had my pipe off my stove) can give you a better evaluation on that.
I really don’t know if I was actually disappointed or if it is just a different result than the brush gets. It may be a totally satisfactory result to just knock off the scale and soot, but still not be down to bare metal.
 
Tried it today. I’d say I wasn’t impressed with the knock off version. Maybe it was my drill speed, maybe it was my line, maybe it was my expectations. I mean if you just want to knock the crud off and slick up the chimney, sure, it did that. I then ran my brush through and got down to bare metal.

Before knock off
View attachment 303874

After knock off

View attachment 303875

But the brush brought it back to metal.
This isn’t a bash of soot eater. But my home made rip off may not be up to par with my metal brush.

Would this meet your standards? I’m just used to a brush bringing it back to slightly tarnished bare steel.
I like the way you think 30WCF. I have been considering making my own 'sooteater'. Your 'after' looks pretty good to me. I don't get that clean with my 6" poly brush on rods when done by hand.
I'm looking at different brass fittings with 1/4" npt to fit my rods. I also want something that will fit the hex shank on my Dewalt battery drill/driver and screw onto a rod.
 
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It'll be interesting to hear what others think of it, but I do believe the bundles of 10x stiff .105 string, trimmed to a length just slightly larger than your liner, should give better and stiffer tip action on the surface of the liner, than your long single strands.
 
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I like the way you think 30WCF. I have been considering making my own 'sooteater'. Your 'after' looks pretty good to me. I don't get that clean with my 6" poly brush on rods when done by hand.
I'm looking at different brass fittings with 1/4" npt to fit my rods. I also want something that will fit the hex shank on my Dewalt battery drill/driver and screw onto a rod.
I took a little video, but it’s too big to load on here.
My brush is the steel brush. I imagine it scrubs a little harder than the poly brush, but I don’t know. I’ve never tried one.
It’s fully the lengths we will sometimes go to spend more time and money to DIY, than to just go buy a thing. Sometimes it pays and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s usually good clean fun with a reward of satisfaction.
It'll be interesting to hear what others think of it, but I do believe the bundles of 10x stiff .105 string, trimmed to a length just slightly larger than your liner, should give better and stiffer tip action on the surface of the liner, than your long single strands.
Yes. Others may say that’s normal results. I wouldn’t call it dirty by any means. More and stiffer line may help.

I actually tried the steel brush with the drill too. It worked a whole lot faster than the normal up and down stroke action, but I could imagine that long term that may not be good for the pipe.
 
I think the length of the strings is the issue. Yours will (have to) slide tangentially against the walls. My soot eater is stiff as ashful said, and the tips will hit the wall rather than having the sides of the string slide along the wall.

On the other hand I don't need.to be squeaky clean. The goal is to be safe,.i.e. get any soot out.
 
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I’m gonna try adjusting the string length and thickness. Probably gonna try a poly brush as well.