Spring usually translates into spring cleaning. Even though most homeowners focus on emptying closets and tidying up the house, other important places around your home should also be cleaned, including your fireplace. Most homeowners are not sure when it comes to the right way to clean their fireplaces or even know the importance of keeping their houses safe. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to clean your fireplace.
What Will You Need To Clean Your Fireplace?
In some cases, homeowners are under the impression that a fireplace area should be unkempt and dirty. After all, fire and ash are usually out of sight behind the glass door of the fireplace. Unfortunately, many risks are involved when you leave a fireplace dirty, regardless of how often you use it.
The most dangerous risk involved with dirty fireplaces is a fire caused in the chimney. While a fireplace is usually safe for a controlled fire, the heat produced should remain inside the firebox situated along the base. But when creosote starts to accumulate in the chimney area, it can ignite caused by the heat produced below, which can cause a fire to ignite. This heat can also damage the bricks allowing the flames to access the woodwork nearby, resulting in a home fire.
The more creosote is allowed to burn in the chimney, the more the risks of fires spreading out the flue. Each time this occurs, it will damage the chimney until it can no longer contain the excess heat. Creosote burning can lead to a destructive and life-threatening fire.
Another risk involved in a dirty fireplace can cause health issues, especially for wood-burning fireplaces. The more common health problems are respiratory-related. If left uncleaned, you might be breathing in the particulate matter left in the fireplace.
Tips On The Right Way To Thoroughly Clean Your Fireplace
Remove The Ash From The Fireplace
When clearing out the ash from a fireplace, you shouldn’t be clearing the fireplace entirely. If you are still planning to use your fireplace in the next day or two, leave an ash layer along the firebox base to help your fire to keep going. The ash layer allows the logs of wood to rest along the top while providing a bit of space underneath to promote airflow, which assists with maintaining your fire.
However, when closing your fireplace for the season, you need to remove ash altogether to maintain a clean home. Use a shovel to scoop up the ash and place it in a container that is non-combustible such as a metal container. We recommend that you wait for 48-hours after your last fire before clearing out the ash to ensure that they are not still burning.
Use a shovel to deposit the ash out of the fireplace into a suitable container (preferably metal). Some of the fireplaces have an ash dump door. If you have one of these doors, make sure the ash is cooled off before you use it.
You may have heard from online sources that it is safe to vacuum the ash from your fireplace. Using a vacuum to remove the ashes is possible, but this comes with a caveat. To begin with, you will need a specialized vacuum cleaner. If you don’t use one of these devices, there are risks involved that the ash may ignite in your vacuum cleaner. Burning ashes could damage your vacuum cleaner or even cause a fire in your home.
Cleaning The Fireplace Soot
Many options and chemical solutions exist for cleaning creosote and soot from a fireplace. However, the only CSIA-recommended method to clean a fireplace involves mechanical brushing. Chemicals might wash a few of the deposits away but are not reliable or efficient enough as a substitute for professional cleaning.
However, there are a few steps to make a fireplace cleaner while waiting between professional cleaning appointments. To begin with, remove the andirons or grates and clean them using a wire brush and old cloth. Do not use water when cleaning these metal parts since it can speed up corrosion and is not necessary. If the andirons are very dirty, use steel wool and vegetable oil or a brass polish made for brass andirons to remove the dirt and polish them.
Take care when you clean soot from a fireplace. Professionals have the experience and skills to clean fireplaces, which means they make sure they protect themselves from breathing in any soot that can cause respiratory irritation. If you don’t own the correct protective equipment, it is best to skip this step and instead use a professional.
Tips On How To Clean Your Fireplace Glass
Some wood fireplaces and gas fireplaces use a glass door along the front to keep a fireplace safer. As time goes by, even with a gas fireplace, this glass does become dirty. Ash and soot stains are widespread in wood fireplaces, while a gas fireplace tends to accumulate a cloudy or glossy appearance all over the glass.
The best way to clean this glass involves removing it and taking it outside. Taking the glass outside also lowers the risks of spreading soot or ash onto your carpets or the flooring surrounding the fireplace.
Stay away from cleaners containing ammonia, a common ingredient in most window cleaners. Instead, look for a cleaner for gas appliances, or you can make a mixture using a solution of water and vinegar. Regularly cleaning the glass will keep this fixture clear and improve how your fireplace looks.
How To Avoid Damaging A Brick Fireplace
Like glass, ammonia is a harsh product on bricks, particularly fragile and worn bricks. Dishwashing detergent is a standard household cleaner that you can use to clean the bricks gently. It will effectively clean your bricks and be mild enough for ageing brickwork.
Combine a solution of water and dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle. Lightly spray the brickwork and then scrub the solution with a soft scrubbing brush. This method will clean any visible ash and soot from the visible spots in your home.
For The Rest, Call A Professional
Allow a CSIA-certified technician to deal with all those hard-to-reach areas in the firebox up to the chimney. These areas are not only a challenge to clean but can also be extremely dangerous. It is also crucial to use the correct tools to ensure the cleaning process does not result in long-term damages such as cleaning bricks or glass.
A professional technician will also conduct a vital inspection when working on the flue. They should identify past damages such as previous chimney fires or catch an issue early enough before it results in significant damages.
Book An Inspection For Your Chimney Today
Our professional CSIA-Certified technicians are here to inspect your chimney liner and fireplace to assess whether you need a liner replacement. Call us today! We are here to assist you in gaining peace of mind that your fireplace and chimney are safe areas in your home.