Best Ways to Clean Your Fireplace
A crackling fireplace at home is a delight, as it provides the much-needed warmth especially during those wonderful winter months. Regular use of the fireplace during the cool months can result in ash, soot, creosote and smoke residue sticking to the bricks and stone.
The residue builds up over a period of time and is chalky or sticky. It needs to be cleaned regularly so that the surface and inside of the fireplace is not discoloured or damaged permanently. Cleaning on a regular basis ensures safety for your home and loved ones.
Fireplaces need to be inspected and maintained at least once a year, depending on their usage. If you use them on a regular basis, you need to get them cleaned at least twice a year. If you don’t remember when was the last time you cleaned it properly, it is probably overdue. If the fireplace manufacturer has given any special instructions for cleaning, it is advisable to follow them for best results.
One of the most important things that you need to remember before you start the cleaning process is to ensure that the fires are unlit and that there are no burning embers left.
Never attempt any kind of cleaning before the fireplace is completely cold. If you had used the fireplace, it is advisable to wait for at least seventy-two hours before you start the cleaning process.
Cleaning Wood Burning Fireplaces
Pay attention to the appearance of the fireplace. If it is shiny and dry, you don’t have to worry. The thickness of the build-up of creosote and ash can help in determining when cleaning is required.
If the build-up is a paper-thin layer, you can hold off the cleaning process for longer. If thick layers of ash and creosote are found on inspection you need to start the cleaning process immediately.
Prepare to Clean
Before you start the cleaning process, it is best to prepare for it. If you want to avoid any mess, you can cover the nearby carpet and furniture with sheets. Always wear gloves, protective googles and facemask to safeguard against dust and other irritants. Keep a trash can or bag ready, so that you can dispose of the waste easily.
Clear All Logs and Debris Before Cleaning
Remove all logs and debris before cleaning. Sprinkling coffee ground on the ashes can prevent debris from entering the air. Most homeowners make the mistake of ignoring the logs when cleaning. You will be surprised to know that most debris and creosote can be found underneath them.
If you use the fireplace infrequently, you can have birds or other animals build nest near the chimney or in the flue. This can make the fireplace unsafe. Remove all bird and other nests from the flue before cleaning.
If you want to prevent birds and other animals from making nests, you can secure a sealing damper to the chimney flue. Leaves and broken branches of trees can also find their way inside the chimney and a mesh can prevent them from entering the fireplace and causing damage.
Cleaning the Firebox
Firebox is the place where the logs in the fireplace burn. During the winter months, it is best to clean the firebox at least once a week. Remove the grate and andirons and scrub them completely clean. Use a shovel to remove the ash and place it in the trash can. Avoid using water to clean the metal fireplace as it can cause rust.
Clean the Bricks
Use a brush or a scraper to loosen the ash and soot. Use a mixture of baked soda and warm water to clean the soot. Gently scrub to remove all stains with the solution. Check for any damage to the bricks.
Fire bricks are different from the regular bricks as they can withstand high temperatures. Regular bricks will not be able to withstand the heat and can crack and get damaged easily.
If the bricks are damaged, you need to get them replaced immediately. Replace regular bricks with fire bricks, so that they can easily withstand high temperatures. They are also easy to clean and maintain.
Clear the Creosote Deposit
Creosote is combustible and can easily cause fire in the flue. Removing the deposit can help avoid this dangerous situation. Use a hard brush for scrubbing. Use a cleaning solution and scrub the interiors so that you can get all the debris out.
Clean both the interiors and exteriors of the fireplace and chimney. After you have completed the scrubbing and cleaning process, double check to ensure that all parts of the fireplace and chimney have been cleaned. Cleaning will not be difficult if you plan the entire process properly.
Cleaning Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces are much cleaner and don’t need to be cleaned as frequently as the wood burning fireplaces. Even though they are cleaner, it is best to maintain and scrub them at least once a year. Dishwashing liquid is effective in cleaning stubborn stains.
Before you start the cleaning, you need to turn off the gas valve to prevent any kind of accidents. Ensure that there is no debris inside the fireplace or close to the vents. Vacuum the area to suck up any dust and dirt. Check to see if the gas logs are in proper position.
A clean fireplace is not just beautiful to look at but is also healthier. Dust, dirt and ash from wood can cause health problems and cleaning at regular intervals can help prevent them easily. Fireplace cleaning and maintenance is important if you want to ensure that it is functioning properly and safely.
If you are unsure about cleaning and maintaining it on your own, you can choose a professional cleaning service to do it thoroughly. A trained technician knows how to check and clean all key areas of the fireplace and chimney. A good solid cleaning process can give you complete peace of mind.