Do Stainless Steel Chimneys Need Cleaning

Chimney sweep of a stainless steel chimney.

When deciding to become a homeowner, keep in mind that projects and maintenance are almost never-ending. Yearly maintenance is required on a lot of working parts in and around your home. Always remember that purchasing a home with various perks like a swimming pool, fire pit, or fireplace can bring a lot of maintenance costs and stress to a homeowner. Most homeowners do not have time to concern themselves with cleaning a fireplace chimney or fireplace itself. Also, depending on what style of chimney you have on your fireplace can change how you maintain the fireplace as a whole unit. Do stainless steel chimneys need cleaning? Yes, hire a chimney sweep or purchase the correct brush that won’t damage the stainless steel.

Let’s take a look below at the process for cleaning a stainless steel chimney.

What Is A Stainless Steel Chimney

Understanding what a stainless steel chimney is and how to clean it can save you a lot of money. More specifically, a stainless steel chimney has a stainless steel liner that connects from the roof to the venting system in the fireplace. Typically a stainless steel liner can extend into a brick or masonry chimney to reinforce the interior of the vent. So, a stainless steel liner is considered an exhaust pipe that allows all gases created by the fire to exit up and out of the home.

This is a short stack stainless steel chimney flue.
A short stack stainless steel chimney flue.

How Do I Start

When it comes to something like getting your stainless steel chimney cleaned, there is some preparation work that should happen first. Let’s review those preparation steps:

  1. First, make sure that the chimney is cooled. You won’t want to start the cleaning process on a hot chimney.
  2. Next, put a few drop cloths on the floor and around the fireplace inside the home. This keeps soot, dirt, and debris from getting onto your floors while the sweep is being done. Also, open up windows and doors so that you have strong air circulation and ventilation.
  3. Place your goggles, gloves, and face mask on before starting the cleaning project.
  4. Take off the damper plate. You will pull the pins that hold the damper in place. Make sure to place your cotter pins off in a safe place where they won’t be lost.
  5. Take your flash light and look up through the fireplace from the bottom of the chimney. Try to see if there are blockages, such as a birds nest, and how much creosote has built up.
  6. Next, place your ladder on the roof top next to the chimney. Make sure it is secured and safe to climb up onto. Then look down from the exterior to see if you see any other potential issues that you didn’t notice from the inside.
  7. Lastly, tap a tarp to the bottom opening of the flue inside the chimney. This will catch the dirt and debris as your brush it off the chimney’s interior.

What Are The Steps For Cleaning

Now that you have prepped the interior and exterior of the home, you can begin the process of sweeping your stainless steel chimney. Let’s take a look at those steps below:

  1. Take the chimney brush and begin by pushing the brush into the top of the chimney. Move the chimney brush up and down and continue this process as long as it takes to clear away the creosote and dirt buildup.
  2. Now that you have a good start, you will want to extend farther into the chimney. Put your chimney brush on an extender pole. Now you can continue your up and down motion and brush away the dirt and creosote from the deep interior of the chimney.
  3. Next, go inside the home and remove the tarp that was taped off at the bottom of the chimney. Use your shop vacuum to suck up the dirt, debris, and creosote that has fallen onto the tarp. Make sure to vacuum all areas of the chimney that are accessible. This ensures you get all of the debris removed.
  4. Use your wire brush made specifically for a stainless steel chimney to ensure all creosote is removed from the lower portion of the chimney.
  5. Prior to replacing the damper plate and cotter pins, make sure that any damage to the chimney has been repaired.

By completing these steps, the inspection and cleaning of the creosote buildup on your stainless steel chimney liner can prevent a chimney fire. Keep in mind that wood stoves can also have creosote buildup in their chimney liners.

How Much Does It Cost

Believe it or not, a chimney sweep can be relatively inexpensive. In addition, it can save you from major damage or even a house fire. The national average for a single flue chimney sweep is $150 to $200. You will also get a chimney inspection to ensure that all parts are working properly. Keep in mind that you can purchase a chimney cleaning kit for around $50.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you have a pretty good understanding of cleaning a stainless steel chimney, you might want to learn more about your actual fireplace. Depending on what materials are used to construct your chimney can determine how you schedule the necessary maintenance. For example, knowing how to clean a stone fireplace is going to be different than how to clean a brick fireplace. Also, keep in mind that the interior liner could be a different material. If damage has occurred to the stonework, you could have a stainless steel metal liner.

Next, due to the variety of fireplace types, you will want to gain an understanding of how to maintain your particular fireplace. Luckily for the homeowner, the steps for cleaning, and maintaining a fireplace can typically be used for all varieties of fireplaces. However, keep in mind that there are different steps and equipment involved depending on the type of fireplace.

Lastly, while you are on the roof cleaning the chimney, go ahead and conduct a roof inspection. You can either follow a recommended roof inspection checklist or you can hire your local home inspection team to conduct the roofing inspection for you.

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This is a great example of a stainless steel chimney flue on a rooftop.
Stainless steel chimney flue.

When Do I Call A Professional

When it comes to cleaning your chimney it is highly recommended that you hire a professional. Most homeowners are not familiar with how to clean the liner of a stainless steel chimney or stainless steel liner. So, hiring a professional chimney and fireplace cleaning company is always the best case here. Not only do you likely not have the tools to complete this project, but getting on your roof can be a safety issue. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can conduct a full roof inspection and ensure the chimney is in safe working order. Also, they can refer a reputable chimney cleaning company.

Conclusion

Having the information above now prepares you for the idea of cleaning your stainless steel chimney the proper way. Keep in mind that cleaning and maintaining your fireplace and chimney is important to ensure that it is in good working condition for a very long time. If you aren’t sure who to call to help with the cleaning and maintenance, reach out to your local home inspection team. Heartland Home Inspections are happy to come out and provide you with some chimney cleaning and maintenance advice and refer a few quality professionals. Heartland Inspections services the great Minneapolis St. Paul and surrounding areas.

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