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How to Properly Clean Your Fireplace

It’s that time of year where temperatures are starting to drop, which means it is time to crank up the heat in your house.  If you are a homeowner that uses a fireplace to keep the house warm and cozy, you might want to clean it before the wood-burning season begins.  Here are a few tips to help make sure your fireplace is clean and ready to be used this upcoming cold season.

Clear Out Ashes

Before you do any scrubbing, remove all ashes with a shovel or dustpan and place them in a bag to be removed. Sweep out any remaining debris and follow up with the brush attachment on your vacuum (and don't forget to clean the brush attachment afterwards —you don't want to spread soot around the rest of your home!).

Clean the Firebox

The firebox is the area where the logs in your fireplace burn. During those cold months when you do actually use your fireplace, the firebox should be cleaned out around once a week. However, the firebox should be kept completely clean. Remove the andirons and grate and take them outdoors to be scrubbed and set aside. 

Remove & Clean the Fire Gate

Put your fire grate and andirons on your newspapers and scrub off loose residue with a wire brush.  Place your fire grate and andirons on an old towel and wipe them down with a rag. Wipe them down gently with steel wool dipped in metal polish, then wipe off the polish with a rag. Once dry, spray with a vinegar and water solution, and wipe clean. Then let dry.

Clean the Fireplace Surround and Mantelpiece

For the fireplace surround and mantelpiece, if you have one, get rid of surface dust by wiping with a soft cloth or using the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner. Clean marble by wiping with a mild detergent solution and buffing dry – marble is quite porous so wipe up any spills as soon as they occur to avoid permanent staining.  If you are looking to upgrade your mantelpiece, contact Fortin Construction can help you resign your fireplace to become a centerpiece of your home.

Clean the Bricks

Use a wire brush and scraper to loosen soot. Clean off soot-stained bricks with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Use a stiff bristled brush and gently scrub stains with the solution.

Clear Out Creosote

Creosote deposits are a natural byproduct of wood burning in your fireplace. If not thoroughly cleaned, a strong odor can emit from your fireplace during warm weather when the humidity is higher and the air conditioner is turned on. To clean mild creosote buildup in your chimney, use a paste made from baking soda and warm water. Dishwashing liquid can also be very effective when tackling stubborn substances.

Hire A Chimney Sweeper

If you do not feel comfortable cleaning your fireplace and chimney on your own, hire a chimney sweep.  Chimney sweeps can inspect your chimney for potential fire hazards and clean out any residue leftover from the wood-burning season. If you use your fireplace frequently, hire a chimney sweep to clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney every year or twice during the burning season if you use your fireplace a lot.

Sitting in front of a fireplace is a great way to relax at the end of the day and warm your home on a cold winter evening. By making sure that your chimney is cleaned each year and that you follow the recommended fireplace safety tips, you are helping to safeguard your home from preventable chimney fires. 


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