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Missing chimney cleanout door (C) Daniel FriedmanChimney Cleanout Door FAQs

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Chimney cleanout doos & opening questions and answers:

Frequently-asked questions & answers about how to find, install, or repair a cleanout opening or access in a chimney.

This article series describes chimney cleanout access doors or ports. We explain that in addition to using the chimney cleanout as a service port to remove debris that has fallen to the bottom of a masonry chimney, the cleanout door and the type of debris found inside can tell us something about the condition of the chimney flue even though we cannot see most of it.



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Chimney Cleanout Door Q&As

Water leak in chimney out at cleanout door (C) Daniel Friedman

Where you can find a chimney cleanout or can remove a flue vent connector to look into a flue, use of a mirror inside the flue to view the flue from below.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Questions & answers about chimney cleanouts & cleanout openings, posted originally at CHIMNEY CLEANOUT DOOR

On 2017-04-24 by (mod) re: smoke from first floor fireplace shows up in basement

Hy

Smoke moving down into a basement from a first floor suggests a couple of problems to be found and fixed:

1. the chimney draft is inadequate - could be a problem with chimney leaks in from above or below the fireplace on the first floor, subverting the draft, or could be a bad chimney cap or downdrafts or inadequate chimney height - you need an inspection from a competent, expert chimney sweep, perhaps certified by the National Chimney Sweeps guild. (Start by checking that the chimney cleanout door is closed and snug).

2. There may be improper and unsafe connections between chimney flues if there are multiple flues

3. There may be improper and unsafe connections in a single chimney flue between floors in the building

On 2017-04-24 by hyjr12

when my wife lights a fire on the main floor (1st) I get smoke in the basement. I had the both flues replaced last year and the fire box sprayed to cover some minor holes. I cant figure out where the smoke is coming from. I had a new furnace installed last year and the out going pipe is properly sealed to the chimney.

On 2017-04-21 22:58:10.811916 by (mod) re: risk of fire when using a home vacuum cleaner to clean out a chimney base

HY

What a perfectly smart question.

I offer a couple of remarks in answer:

Sure you can use a shop vac to clean ash out through the cleanout door of a chimney

BUT

IF there is the slightest chance that there are live coals or ashes in the chimney base you will set the shop vac on fire and risk a building fire

AND

Unless you have a filter bag over the filter of your shop vac you'll need to replace the filter and clean the vac after the fire ... I mean after the cleanout.

Ash is not so bad but oil burner soot and crud that fall down from a heating flue is incredibly irritating and makes very fine and very messy dust.

That's why heating companies usually use a dedicated vacuum cleaner, and one that's HEPA rated.

On 2017-04-20 by hyjr12

can you use a shop vac to clean out the ash in the clean out door?

On 2017-04-02 by (mod) re: paint for chimney cleanout doors

Sure, Kenny, you can paint a metal cleanout door on a chimney: I would recommend use of a high grade exterior paint specified for use on metal.

On 2017-04-02 12:26:59.374957 by kenny

the empty cleanout door on a chimney can you paint it

On 2017-03-29 by (mod) re: raw masonry below the chimney thimble

Mark I don't quite understand the question.

If the chimney is masonry it may have a clay flue tile liner that extends downwards below the thimble to a cleanout door, though it's common also to find just raw masonry starting a short distance below the thimble and sometimes a larger-still ash pit.

Solve the problem easily with a mirror and a flashlight - look in the cleanout door and up.

On 2017-03-29 by Mark

Want to replace my chimney liner, is there a pipe which goes from the bottom of the thimble down to the close out door or is it just open below the thimble? Thanks

On 2017-02-27 by (mod) re: cedar block basement walls?

Cedar block basement walls? That's not a material with which I'm familiar. Please use the page top or bottom CONTACT link to send me some sharp photos and we can comment further.

Generally foundations are not built to be as waterproof as Noah's Ark - we need to direct roof runoff, surface runoff, etc. away from the building.

On 2017-02-27 17:21:23.224004 by Venida Brown

Question: My clean-out door fell off and I'm going to replace it but the area around the frame of the door is crumbling. My basement walls are cedar block and I've had a small leak for year. I've had work done on the chimney and around the chimney such as sealing the outside base with liquid cement and tare. None of these things stopped the leak. My basement has been water proofed but I have a real bad problem. Who should I call to repair this? Thank you help.

On 2017-02-23 by (mod) re: need for a chimney cleanout door

Brian:

You want a working cleanout door at the base of the chimney flue to clean out fallen soot and debris, though if there is enough height (several feet) between the thimble (where the flue vent connector from the oil fired heater enters the chimney flue) and the chimney base/cleanout door you could probably accumulate years of crud before it would begin to block the flue.

you also want a door that closes properly and seals, since holes in the chimney base will subvert the chimney draft and can cause improper, even unsafe oil burner operation.

Temporarily you can simply seal the door opening with any fireproof material.

Replacement chimney cleanout doors are widely sold at building suppliers and some heating or plumbing suppliers.

On 2017-02-22 23:50:26.281554 by Brian Neville

interior cleanout door has fallen out of cement foundation on my chimney for oil furnace. Do I still need cleanout door for oil furnace? How do I seal door back in ? just cement interior of door then hold it tight till set.. Then skim coat chimney door frame rim?

On 2016-11-09 by (mod) re: refractory cement to repair fireplace

Pat, there are refractory cements rated for high heat that are used in masonry fireplace construction. Don't use regular cement, nor caulk.
Examples:

On 2016-11-09 by Pat

We have a masonry fireplace with a door that closes tight once the wood is loaded in - it has a great draw and is an excellent source of heat once the unit has warmed up. We opened up all of the cleanouts and now want to seal them back in and are not sure which product to use. They had been fixed in with some sort of mortar or cement, which we had to chip out (not easy), so expect that we need to put them back in with the same type of product. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

On 2016-05-20 by Anonymous

) hello this is Debra, my husband said Thank-you for your advice!!! He agrees with your solutions and is going to give them a try!! We hope for the best, once again thanks for taking the time to respond. God Bless you & yours!!!

On 2016-05-17 by (mod) re: fixing an old chimney cleanout that leaks

Debra:

Start fixing this problem outside with

1. a proper rain cap on the chimney
2. inspection for driven-rain leak points in the chimney walls
3. (most liklely) surface runoff or roof runoff that is draining towards rather than away from the chimney.

On 2016-05-16 by debra1137@att.net

chimney box (is from an old furnace, so its not in use-it is empty) when it rains water fills in the old chimney clean-out and leaks into basement from the bottom of the clean-out door. I tried sealing it many times but to no avail it just keeps leaking! What do i do?
does this problem needs to be fixed from the outside of my house underground, by the chimney? please help! my basement is flooding!

On 2015-10-28 by Art Tate

My home is 25 years old. I have a wood burning fireplace with an ash dump 15 ft. deep with a clean out door at the bottom. It is full now at the top but there is no ash at the bottom. The pit is made of a matrix of concrete block. I have rammed rods down into it which opens it up a little but it soon clogs again. The fireplace has been use extensively. Is there a way to clean this pit out?

On 2015-06-17 by (mod) re: Dublin chimney ash dump repair

Hey Don thanks for the question.

I have some theories but no facts.

1. If the ash dump that was abandoned was not sealed and if water leaks into that space, even though it has been bricked up water + cresote = smells.

2. with no ash dump what is supposed to happen to the fireplace ashes ? Essentially you're expected to clean them after use of the fireplace or heater.

The requirement for an ash dump may be part of your local codes - are you asking about codes for Dublin Ireland or elsewhere?

On 2015-06-16 by Don in Dublin

Hi, I had a chimney ash dump that went to the exterior (outside)of a masonry chimney. The interior was in the floor of the burn box. The door and entire frame of the ash dump assembly on the exterior was falling out of the mortar and brick of the chimney. I had a chimney repair company come out and they removed the exterior ash dump door and bricked in the chimney where it had been. On the interior they removed the ash dump assembly and put in fire brick.

So the entire ash dump has been removed and bricked in now. They also put on a top sealing damper. I burned several fires over the winter and the chimney seemed to draw ok once the fire was actually going. Smoked some at first. However, with no fire and all the ash cleaned out completely the fire place just smells. It is so bad that it stinks up the entire living room. Almost to the point of the room being unusable.

Doesn't matter if the lower damper and top damper are closed or open. It just smells all the time now. Is this a problem created because the ash dump was removed and bricked in? If so, should this chimney repair company have known this would cause a problem if they knew what they were doing. Is there some kind of code (I'm in Ohio) that says every masonry fire place must have an ash dump?

Question: Do I need cleanout doors on my chimneys?

(Sept 10, 2011) Do I need cleanout doors? said:

Hi,
I have two cleanout doors--the ash cleanout from the fireplace. (I never use that cleanout) and the cleanout door for the heating area, which I also don't use. (The gas furnace and gas water heater both go directly into the flue). So I'm wondering--do I need EITHER of these doors or can I seal them up? Thanks!

Reply:

As long as the cleanout doors are properly fitted, snug, not leaky, they're not interfering with draft, and should be left intact to permit chimney inspection.

Question: fireplace enclosures?

(Oct 24, 2012) grant said:

i have a wooden enclosed fireplace. in the attic three sides are closed the one facing the interior has been left open . do i need to enclose it as well. if so what material do i use?

Reply:

I am unclear on what you're describing, Grant. A "wooden" enclosed fireplace sounds to me like kindling designed to set a house on fire.

If you mean you have a zero-clearance metal fireplace enclosed in a wood structure or chimney chase, that can be safe provided the installation followed the manufacturer's installation instructions, including fire safety clearances (and of course complied with local codes).

I'm unclear on what was left open in the attic and what was enclosed and of course we don't know what type of chimney was installed. So I'm too chicken hearted to recommend specific steps or materials for an installation I know so little about.

Watch out: for safety I suggest asking your local building department of fire department to inspect this installation for safety and code compliance.

Question: should I fill in the chimney base with insulation?

(Feb 26, 2014) Anonymous said:

I was told to fill clean out area with insulation to stop draft?
Is that correct?

Reply:

Anon I'm unclear what area you plan to fill with insulation but this does not sound like a safe, recommended treatment of a chimney. See my inspection recommendation for the reader just above.

Question: chimney cleanout installation details.

(5 Oct 2014) Nathan Miller said:

I have a fireplace with a chimney that slopes about thirty degrees above the damper towards the outer wall of the chimney, leaving it very difficult to clean debris above the damper.

This space is about four feet from my chimney flue. Now I have installed a cleanout door on the outside of the chimney, twelve by twelve. My glue is eleven by eleven. I put fire brick on the wall where part of the flue liner was broken out. Now my question, do I need to insulate the clean out door somehow?

This question was originally posted at ANGLED CHIMNEYS

Reply:

Nathan

Chimney cleanout doors are not normally insulated - and I'd be worried lest someone try doing so, especially if they applied a combustible material.

But you do want to be sure the door closes tightly so as not to subvert the chimney draft.

Question:

(Nov 29, 2014) Dazy said:
I have a gas insert now in my old fireplace... may I , and HOW, can I fill the old Chimney cleanout because I get alot of cold draft from it?

Reply:

Dazy I moved your question and our reply into the article series above at

SEALING a CHIMNEY CLEANOUT DOOR

so that I had more room for a detailed reply. Let me know if question sremain.

Question: water on the chimney cleanout

(Dec 16, 2014) D.Burrows said:
We have a gas furnace in a furnace room, connected to an exterior brick chimney below grade. the chimney clean out door from time to time water appears on its ledge. Would the be condensation from the chimney? or another problem.

Reply:

DB

You or your chimney sweep will need to open the cleanout door to answer this question; if the chimney is flooded from outside water sources that's a different topic from condensation running down the flue.

...


Continue reading at CHIMNEY CLEANOUT DOORor select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see CHIMNEY CLEANOUT CLEARANCE to COMBUSTIBLES

Or see DRAFT REGULATOR SOOT INSPECTION for another spot where it may be possible to inspect for clues about the condition of a chimney and its safety.

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