It’s days like this I wish I’d built the cabin differently.

Because if the old one-legged man could get up on the roof, even with trepidation, cleaning the stovepipe would be so much simpler.

But since I’m not going to risk what remains of my creaky life up on that steep roof scrubbing the soot down into the stove, I have to plan on making a big mess in my bitsy little cabin.


Unscrew and remove the lower stovepipe section and take it outside. I can clean that at my leisure on the old sawbuck. Move the stove out of the way, spread a tarp and tape the far sides to the walls. Then…

Either put on an old shirt or wait for a warmish day and strip down to a t-shirt because you’re going to be soot to the elbows. Wrap a cloth around your head. Screw the brush to the first section of pole and get scrubbin’.


It’s a little less than 12 feet from the bottom of the section of pipe that dangles from the ceiling to the cap – which I had to dragoon Ian to fasten down with screws after the first time I knocked it off the pipe with the brush eight years ago. Twelve feet is three 4′ segments of flexible brushing pole. And the single disadvantage of having finally gotten over my chimney fire phobia so that I’m no longer cleaning the pipe every week or less is that quite a lot of soot can build up in there. Not pipe-plugging quantities by any means, but enough to make a pretty good mess…


…so that site and body cleanup takes considerably longer than actually scrubbing the chimney. Most of that could be skipped if I could just walk up on the roof and do the deed that way. But that’s the way it is, and I always feel much better about life when it’s finally all done and put back together.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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10 Responses to It’s days like this I wish I’d built the cabin differently.

  1. When we had a woodstove, I’d clean the stove pipe from inside too. I’d take off the lowest piece of the pipe. Then I’d take the brush and poke the handle thru a black trash bag so the brush was inside the bag and the handle was outside. Tape or tie a knot in the bag to secure it to the pipe and start pushing the brush up the pipe with the creosote falling neatly into the trash bag. With the handle outside the bag it was easy to add lengths to the handle and move right along. When done, just take the bag down, remove the brush, seal the bag and job done with hardly any cleanup needed.

  2. I don’t have an option to clean from inside. It’s up on the roof, climb up on the brick chimney stack and straddle it like riding a horse. Then clean. When I did it last fall it was damn awkward to get up on that stack. Looking for a better way. Probably will involve some pricey piece of hardware.

  3. Joel says:

    Huh. That never occurred to me; I’m going to give it a try next time.

  4. Wayne K Wilson says:

    Don’t they make a stove pipe with a 45 degree off shoot?

  5. matismf says:

    Another option would be to give Laddie a reason to go up that pipe!

    Maybe someone needs to get you a remote control bird…

    }:-]

  6. DAN says:

    just got my roof ladder cleared of snow, homemade & bolted to roof with lag screws, try to get up once a month to do chimney but this winter was a tad extreme -43 for 3 days in a row,north BC.had 2ft of frozen snow piled on ladder, & @70+ yrs.thought i could outwait it, nope tomorrow up i go & get it done before the next dump on tues &wed. have tried all the so called chimney cleaning ideas & products & only found one that actually works fairly well KATHITE chimney cleaner.it works very well on type3 sticky shit creosote, turns it flakey & it brushes out slick. 30 feet of chimney but the only real buildup is the top 3 ft. double wall pipe all the way, 24/7 fire in a BIG RSF. only heat for the whole house 10 cords per year. going steady from sept thru till may generally. such is life in the great white north.DAN

  7. Cliff says:

    Similar to the trash bag but a little more permanent, I use a 2’ section of stove pipe with a pillow case with a hole in one corner. The pillow case is attached to the pipe with a hose clamp. Remove the bottom section of pipe install the shorter piece with the cap and go to town. I just leave the brush and first pole section in the pipe to store it in the shed after emptying it out. Some fine dust makes it through the bag and I’ve thought of using a sheet of rubber instead, but never got around to changing it.

  8. Norman says:

    Along the same line as ColoradoHermit’s and Cliff’s suggestions is this: IIRC they make formed metal caps for stove pipe. Drill a hole in the center, insert a rubber grommet that seals against the cleaning brush rod, attach the modified cap to a short length of stove pipe, clamp “Stove Pipe Cleaning Accessory, Mark I” to the bottom of the existing pipe.

    To make it a Mark II version, replace that short length of stove pipe with a Tee, add another cap to the side outlet of the Tee and epoxy a shop vacuum hose coupling to it (Mark II, Mod 1, would require a PVC plumbing flange of the appropriate size be fastened to the cap, into which the vac hose coupling gets epoxied or PVC-cemented; for some reason there’s never a match between plumbing pipe dimensions and shop vac hose connections…). Hooking a shop vac to the Mark II while cleaning should prevent nearly all the dust from getting into the house, and you wouldn’t need all that big a vac, just enough suction and air movement to re-direct the dust. You’ve got 1600 running watts (2000 surge) with the Honda generator, might as well wake ’em up and put ’em to work. You could even vacuum the Lair with it when it’s not used for stove pipe cleaning.

    And, on it’s days off from assisting with stove pipe cleaning and Lair vacuuming, the shop vac can be used as a blower by putting the hose in the exhaust.

  9. Kentucky says:

    I’ve used coloradohermit’s method quite a bit, and it works just fine. Ya just gotta be sure you get the trash bag SECURELY attached at the bottom of the pipe. Failure to do this results in a big mess.

To the stake with the heretic!