Sooteater or Wohler?

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mpaul

New Member
So I've been an off and on wood stove user for the past 15 years or so but, never cleaned my own chimney. I recently moved into a new home (built in 1987) and my wife and I decided to convert the existing gas fireplace into a wood burner. We settled on the 42 Apex from Fireplace Xtrordinair. Last year was our first year heating with it and we were both very pleased with its performance, heating our entire ~2,000 sq ft open floor plan home without ever needing to turn on my propane boiler. Saved us a ton of money!

This summer I contacted the installer and had them professionally clean the stove/chimney. I watched him closely and asked some questions with the intent of cleaning/sweeping on my own going forward. The job looked pretty straight forward and he encouraged me to sweep it going forward, showing me what to look for etc.

He also recommended I purchase a Wohler 10" Poly Brush with a 50' Wohler push head. This appeared to be the type of setup he was using. However, reading this forum I see so many recommendations to use a Sooteater. What are the advantages/disadvantages to both? The Wohler setup would set me back over $400 whereas the Sooteater I could get for just over $100. My chimney is roughly 30' with a straight shot, no bends. Any input would be much appreciated
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
So I've been an off and on wood stove user for the past 15 years or so but, never cleaned my own chimney. I recently moved into a new home (built in 1987) and my wife and I decided to convert the existing gas fireplace into a wood burner. We settled on the 42 Apex from Fireplace Xtrordinair. Last year was our first year heating with it and we were both very pleased with its performance, heating our entire ~2,000 sq ft open floor plan home without ever needing to turn on my propane boiler. Saved us a ton of money!

This summer I contacted the installer and had them professionally clean the stove/chimney. I watched him closely and asked some questions with the intent of cleaning/sweeping on my own going forward. The job looked pretty straight forward and he encouraged me to sweep it going forward, showing me what to look for etc.

He also recommended I purchase a Wohler 10" Poly Brush with a 50' Wohler push head. This appeared to be the type of setup he was using. However, reading this forum I see so many recommendations to use a Sooteater. What are the advantages/disadvantages to both? The Wohler setup would set me back over $400 whereas the Sooteater I could get for just over $100. My chimney is roughly 30' with a straight shot, no bends. Any input would be much appreciated
Our wohler setup hasn't been pulled off the shelf in probably 5 years since we went to rotary cleaning. It just doesn't do as good a job and is harder to use
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,164
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
100$ for a sooteater? 44$ for the kit with 18' of rods plus two 6' rod kits for 18.5$ each. 81$ total with free shipping.

Amazon product
Amazon product
Even if you have to spend 100$ I would still get the sooteater. I use one for two stoves and can't think of any way to improve on it.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
Yeah our professional rotary cleaning system that is much more durable and has bigger buttons that are easier to use. But for a homeowner cleaning a chimney or two a year the sooteater is perfect
 

mpaul

New Member
Good to know. You can't beat the price differences, that's for sure. Are the Sooteaters one size fits all? Watching the Sweep the brush he used was tight against the flue, the brushes on the Sooteater seem a lot more flexible.
Knowing I only watched him use the Wohler, anything I need to look out for when using the Sooteater, any special techniques?
 

BigJ273

Feeling the Heat
Feb 15, 2015
461
Maryland
Good to know. You can't beat the price differences, that's for sure. Are the Sooteaters one size fits all? Watching the Sweep the brush he used was tight against the flue, the brushes on the Sooteater seem a lot more flexible.
Knowing I only watched him use the Wohler, anything I need to look out for when using the Sooteater, any special techniques?
You can trim the whip to fit your flue size, or just leave it at the size it comes. I’ve tried it both ways. Honestly, I didn’t see a noticeable difference. Def works well tho
 
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Supersurvey

Burning Hunk
Jan 25, 2015
224
New Jersey
See if it would be more cost effective to get 2 sets so you have a spare head.
 

BIGChrisNH

Minister of Fire
Dec 16, 2015
556
New Hampshire
I’m still not totally sold on the quality of a soot eater. I’ve used mine 3 times, and broken a rod 3 times. I paid for it so I keep trying to use it, but it is maddening. It seems if you don’t rev the drill up too high the rods won’t snap, but it‘s a delicate operation.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,128
Downeast Maine
100$ for a sooteater? 44$ for the kit with 18' of rods plus two 6' rod kits for 18.5$ each. 81$ total with free shipping.

Amazon product
Amazon product
Even if you have to spend 100$ I would still get the sooteater. I use one for two stoves and can't think of any way to improve on it.
I bought two soot eater kits to have a back up head and rods since I needed more rods than one kit came with.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,128
Downeast Maine
I’m still not totally sold on the quality of a soot eater. I’ve used mine 3 times, and broken a rod 3 times. I paid for it so I keep trying to use it, but it is maddening. It seems if you don’t rev the drill up too high the rods won’t snap, but it‘s a delicate operation.
I haven't had this same problem myself, but you could try a less aggressive drill.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,164
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I’m still not totally sold on the quality of a soot eater. I’ve used mine 3 times, and broken a rod 3 times. I paid for it so I keep trying to use it, but it is maddening. It seems if you don’t rev the drill up too high the rods won’t snap, but it‘s a delicate operation.

I broke one rod. What usually causes it is over bending into too tight a radius. So at least for me, it was user error.

I go mad speed top gear in the DeWALT drill. One direction on the way up and reverse on the way down. High speed should be less likely to cause damage.
 

mpaul

New Member
So typically the rods break from too many bends? With a straight shot chimney the likelihood of me breaking something is reduced, right? When buying two sets is that both the rods and the brush, does the brush wear out over time?
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,785
Iowa
So typically the rods break from too many bends? With a straight shot chimney the likelihood of me breaking something is reduced, right? When buying two sets is that both the rods and the brush, does the brush wear out over time?
Can't imagine breaking a rod on a straight shot cleaning. I also can't imagine trying to make it work without breaking on a 90 deg bend! Mine makes a gentle bend from next to the stove going up into my telescoping pipe lifted up off the collar. It's been working great for a few years. I am going to purchase a extra head and cut the bristles a touch longer than the recommended for my 6" pipe. Nice setup.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,400
NE Ohio
I've had a SE for at least 4-5 years...clean my 2 chimneys plus 2 more...only thing its ever needed is the line replaced...I used heavy weedeater line...works the same as the OEM line...
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
I've had a SE for at least 4-5 years...clean my 2 chimneys plus 2 more...only thing its ever needed is the line replaced...I used heavy weedeater line...works the same as the OEM line...
That is what we use in ours
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,164
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I think I’ll cut my strings a little longer than recommended next time too. I juse the big 080 weed wacker line but it wears slow.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
We always just use the precut trimmer line at 18" the new strings get used for fireplace flues as they wear down that head gets used for smaller flues and we put long ones on another head again. During the heavy cleaning season strings last about a week.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
I’ve got a whole spool of .130” for my trimmer. Would this thicker trim line damage the liner?
It shouldn't. What type of liner is it? It also may not fit in the head. Honestly for homeowner use the lines will last a long time it isn't a big deal really
 

mpaul

New Member
Ok thanks. I can’t see this wearing out that fast. I plan to do two cleaning per season burning 4-5 cords.
I have an 8” insulated liner.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
Ok thanks. I can’t see this wearing out that fast. I plan to do two cleaning per season burning 4-5 cords.
I have an 8” insulated liner.
Yeah we can go through a set in a week. But that can be 40 or 50 cleanings
 

BIGChrisNH

Minister of Fire
Dec 16, 2015
556
New Hampshire
I broke one rod. What usually causes it is over bending into too tight a radius. So at least for me, it was user error.

I go mad speed top gear in the DeWALT drill. One direction on the way up and reverse on the way down. High speed should be less likely to cause damage.
I wish they wouldn’t break as often. I need to put mine through the thimble in the wall, then bend up through the flue, so it’s a 90 degree turn. I don’t have a straight up option. It’s frustrating because the tool is marketed as flexible for easy bottom up cleaning, but the rods are very delicate.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,557
central pa
I wish they wouldn’t break as often. I need to put mine through the thimble in the wall, then bend up through the flue, so it’s a 90 degree turn. I don’t have a straight up option. It’s frustrating because the tool is marketed as flexible for easy bottom up cleaning, but the rods are very delicate.
Try getting a section of plastic flexible conduit to run the rods through. It helps support them and keep them from kinking