How often do you clean your chimney?

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Stentor1

New Member
Jun 16, 2012
27
North of Boston
How often should I clean the chimney (or flue)?

I started with my Harman XXV in December 2008 and have been careful about a good professional cleaning every summer. I used to have an ordinary wood stove and I had the chimney cleaned every year. But the store that sold me the stove and the four tons of Okanagans I use every year told me that I wouldn't have to worry about the chimney/flue "for at least five years."

Do you agree?
 
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DexterDay

Guest
It should be cleaned EVERY TON (Month)..! If not every ton, then every Season... But as a Woodburner/Pelletburner. It should be at least every month. Regardless of usage.... Going that long is ridiculous. And your dealer has NO IDEA.

At 4 ton a yr, it should be 2-4 times a yr. Some may go 1 time, but its always best to be proactive.

Would you wait 5 yrs to change the oil in your Car/Truck/Van?
 

thedude110

Feeling the Heat
Aug 12, 2011
277
Central Connecticut
I clean my direct vent with a lint-eater about once per ton -- too much fly ash.

What's your venting setup look like?
 
Chimneys that are in use should be cleaned and/ or inspected each year by a professional. What's wrong with you people? People generally hear what they want to hear. Though a chimney may not need a cleaning...looking down and actually seeing what's up may very well answer your question.

Is your flue lined?
 

DneprDave

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2011
512
Western WA
You don't need a professional to inspect your chimney, it's pretty obvious if it's dirty.

Dave
 

Stentor1

New Member
Jun 16, 2012
27
North of Boston
Thanks for the comments. Maybe I misunderstand some of them.

I'm not talking about any of the parts of the pellet stove itself which I think I maintain OK. And I'm not talking about routine scraping of the firebox and other accessible parts which I do every few days. The stove feeds into a four foot pipe into the wall that collects a few inches of ash (might fill a quart container) over the season. I see the ash in the bend of the pipe when the stove gets an annual cleaning.

The pipe feeds into a pre-existing hole in the brick chimney that used to be used for the old wood stove. I don't know how much creosote or just plain gunk sticks to the walls (flue?) of the chimney. When I was burning two or three cord of wood with the old wood stove, annual summer chimney cleaning showed a lot of hardened carbon deposit. Chimney guy climbed up on roof of a two story building and ran a scraper up and down a few times. Cleaned the junk out as it fell to the bottom and into the stove. What the dealer said is that I will have minimal coating of carbon in the stove itself and that ash would be trapped in the bent pipe at the bottom of the chimney. Was this wrong?
 

CygnusX1

Feeling the Heat
Jan 5, 2008
350
Central MA
I run the brush up my liner after every ton.
 
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Lousyweather

Guest
It should be cleaned EVERY TON (Month)..! If not every ton, then every Season... But as a Woodburner/Pelletburner. It should be at least every month. Regardless of usage.... Going that long is ridiculous. And your dealer has NO IDEA.

At 4 ton a yr, it should be 2-4 times a yr. Some may go 1 time, but its always best to be proactive.

Would you wait 5 yrs to change the oil in your Car/Truck/Van?
yea, all dealers are idiots......==c

I dont think it productive to make offhand comparisons of unrelated products to the cleaning of the chimney, such as oil changes in your vehicle. Pellets, oil, chimney should be cheched AT A MINIMUM, once a year. Wood? More frequently.
 
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DexterDay

Guest
yea, all dealers are idiots......==c
Wow....

I didnt say that... In no way does it mean that either.. I support good dealers (dealer/only one good one around) :(

(Would you make a customer go 4-5 yrs without a cleaning?/ I doubt it..)

There are some dealers out there that sell stoves. Then there are others that run a business and that business is there livelihood. I know of one around me that just sells stoves/product. Not a very good idea in these times. Knows very little about wood and woodstoves, and even less about pellet stoves.

Didnt call them an idiot. Just may need to do a little more explaining. There clay lined chimney may be able to go quite a long time betweem cleanings. As the fly ash has a large area to accumulate in at the bottom..... But the venting going to the Chimney, needs cleaned much more often than every 5 yrs.

Maybe I shouldnt have given the analogy and I should have been more descriptive.
 

roadking88

Feeling the Heat
Jun 20, 2011
302
central Maine
i do the blower once a month....
 

Salty

Minister of Fire
once a year and I burn 5+ tons a season.

Only once since 2008 has there been any restriction in the t at the bottom. It still ran fine even though there was lots of ash at the bottom. We burned Michigans that year. UGH those things were crapola.
 

Salty

Minister of Fire
Mines getting done tomorrow
 

Stentor1

New Member
Jun 16, 2012
27
North of Boston
We must be talking about different things. I have to be clearer.

It's not the ash accumulating at the bottom in the T pipe that concerns me. That gets done at least at the end-of- season cleaning.

What I am asking is how often to clean the interior of the brick chimney itself. Every year? This means:

1. somebody detaching the stove pipe from a sealed entry into the brick chimney
2. cleaning from inside the house with brushes pushed up the brick chimney
3. climbing up to the roof
4. taking off the screen used to keep out leaves and animals
5. running brushes up and down the twenty foot brick interior
6. reversing the process (sealing up the entrance into the chimney from the house)

It's a big deal. I want to avoid tar and creosote build up that might cause a fire. I also want to point where the pipe goes in to the chimney wall to be airtight or we'll get carbon monoxide in to the house. But if there is little or no build up on the interior of the twenty foot brick chimney's interior, how often would cleaning be necessary?

My added reason for hesitating is that the guy who used to do the chimney sweeping when I had a regular wood stove and who installed the pellet stove is now retired. I'll have to go hunting for another chimney guy.
 

Eric Johnson

Mod Emeritus
Nov 18, 2005
5,871
Central NYS
When I had a creosote-monster for an indoor boiler and a way to clean the SS chimney from inside the basement (and a shop-vac powered soot mitigation system), I'd do it every week during the heating season--whether it needed it or not. Somttimes, surprisingly, it did. Other times--nothing. It only took about 10 minutes to run the brush up the stack and I'd do it after my Saturday or Sunday ski outing, so a good shower afterward killed two birds with one stone.

I know it sounds excessive, but having had one chimney fire in that interior chimney was one too many for my nerves. I found that knowing my chimney never had enough fuel to light off was work a lot in peace of mind. Certainly worth 10 minutes a week.
 
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We must be talking about different things. I have to be clearer.

It's not the ash accumulating at the bottom in the T pipe that concerns me. That gets done at least at the end-of- season cleaning.

What I am asking is how often to clean the interior of the brick chimney itself. Every year? This means:

1. somebody detaching the stove pipe from a sealed entry into the brick chimney
2. cleaning from inside the house with brushes pushed up the brick chimney
3. climbing up to the roof
4. taking off the screen used to keep out leaves and animals
5. running brushes up and down the twenty foot brick interior
6. reversing the process (sealing up the entrance into the chimney from the house)

It's a big deal. I want to avoid tar and creosote build up that might cause a fire. I also want to point where the pipe goes in to the chimney wall to be airtight or we'll get carbon monoxide in to the house. But if there is little or no build up on the interior of the twenty foot brick chimney's interior, how often would cleaning be necessary?

My added reason for hesitating is that the guy who used to do the chimney sweeping when I had a regular wood stove and who installed the pellet stove is now retired. I'll have to go hunting for another chimney guy.
It sounds like you have what we call a damper installation. A liner that goes up through the sealed plate in the damper then terminates. The actual chimney then vents the gases out. You live in MA I assume so I'll tell you that damper installs in MA are not allowed. Perhaps you have an installation that was done prior to 2008 when they were allowed. Sure...you could go years without cleaning the chimney, though I would not recommend. The venting needs to be inspected each year, should be cleaned after each ton adn should be completely cleaned each year. Not doing so could lead to a dangerous situation. Anyone that told you you can go years without doing that is not trained properly, is dishing out dangerous advice and should not be considered professional.

Any damper installation in MA that is done after 2008 is against code. There are reasons that they now require full liners to the top of the chimney. Though your house may not burn down by not cleaning it, that doesn't mean that the vent could not become obstructed by ash, animals, sediment, leaves, sticks or other foreign objects and spill CO2 in to the house.
 

SmokeyTheBear

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2008
13,363
Standish, ME
Stentor1,

That chimney should be checked at least once a year and cleaned if needed.

Your pellet vent pipe to the chimney needs a 1 ton cleaning.

Scott,

I don't think Stentor1's installation is into a fireplace.
 
I would suggest running the pipe all the way to the top of the fp it is running into it makes it easier to clean and is less messy, and we tell our customers to have the stove cleaned once per every ton of pellets burn. A clean stove means more heat, and less parts breaking (Well in my experiance anyways) so in the long run it saves you money
 

ducker

Feeling the Heat
Apr 22, 2008
380
Leominster, MA
I was told something similar by a chimney sweep service and confirmed by the installers. That pellets are going to burn ridiculously cleaner then wood. And as a result creosote build up will be non-existent in the chimney. Burning wood produces far more creosote build up.

I don't see why either of these companies would sear me AWAY from getting regular cleanings, as it's a quick and easy job for them and easy money.

smwilliamson - when in 2008 was the law passed?
 
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DexterDay

Guest
So your stove just empties into a Clay lined chimney? (Not a fireplace..).

What size are the clay tiles (7x11, 8x8, etc?). How deep does the chimney go (how far down after the pellet vent goes in).?

Are they just suggesting that ash can build up for 5 yrs? Although creo is harder to produce in a pellet stove, it is possible under the right conditions.

Can you take a pics of this set-up? As this would clear up some confustion....
 

SmokeyTheBear

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2008
13,363
Standish, ME
Folks there are issues with dumping exhaust from a pellet stove into a chimney.

The exhaust gases have a lot more time to cool and thus for any combustion byproducts to condense out one such byproduct is in fact creosote.

Always inspect the chimney of any wood burning device at the very least once a year and clean if needed. Yes that means looking from the roof if that is the only way you look into the flue.
 
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Lousyweather

Guest
Massachusetts Building Code - Sec 6801.3.2 , the flue liner, chimney inner wall or vent inner wall shall be continuous to prevent escaping gases. moisture or creosote.
with most installations, since pellet stoves are UL listed, the installation instructions supercede local code
 
with most installations, since pellet stoves are UL listed, the installation instructions supercede local code
absolutely NOT! The AHJ supersedes all. UL listing is recommended by manufacturers and is widely accepted but where local and State code conflict, NFPA 211states that in areas of ambiguity one must er on the side of the AHJ or the safest route. This mostly has to do with stuff that isn't UL or where UL tests (happens a lot with alcove installs) fall short of local codes.

Try getting the Town of Falmouth to sign off on a damper installation....ain't gonna happen even if it is approved by mnfg.
 
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Lousyweather

Guest
absolutely NOT! The AHJ supersedes all. UL listing is recommended by manufacturers and is widely accepted but where local and State code conflict, NFPA 211states that in areas of ambiguity one must er on the side of the AHJ or the safest route. This mostly has to do with stuff that isn't UL or where UL tests (happens a lot with alcove installs) fall short of local codes.

Try getting the Town of Falmouth to sign off on a damper installation....ain't gonna happen even if it is approved by mnfg.
noone can compel the AHJ to signoff on anything, and for any of the myriad reasons he/she decides not to.....heck, a bit extreme, but they can deny it just because the stove isnt purple!. There is an appeal procedure, long and lengthy, and not necessarily a sure thing, but in the meantime you arent gonna have a "legal" installation, but, NFPA211 12.1.1 states "Listed and installed in accordance with the terms of their listing".....
 
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