When you own a fireplace, fireplace cleaning will become one of your regular maintenance chores. While this is not a fun project, it is very necessary to keep your fireplace in top-working order and in a safe condition. A tar-like substance called creosote builds up after prolonged use of the fireplace, and it can act as a hazzard if not properly dealt with.
Throughout your wood burning season, and before you begin to use it, you should have a good fireplace cleaning. By cleaning the chimney, fireplace, accessories, and surrounding areas, you are keeping fire risks at an absolute minimum. Creosote, ash, and soot can accumulate during a season, and they should be taken care of quickly.
Clean Your Fireplace Right
There are some do's and don'ts when it comes to fireplace cleaning. You simply do not clean them the same way you would walls, the carpet, windows, or other household cleaning projects. Here are a few things to do, as well as, a few things not to do.
When cleaning a fireplace, make sure you do not use any type of abrasive cleaners. This can damage some of the porous parts of the brick and leave a flammable residue behind.
Do not use water to wash down your fireplace; it turns the ashes to a paste-like substance, making them much harder to remove. Sweeping the firebox and surrounding area is also something you don't want to do. This spreads around ash, and it could move around smoldering embers. Wait for at least 12 hours after the fire has been extinguished, and use a wet/dry vac to clean up the area.
You might also want to help yourself clean the fireplace by sprinkling some coffee grounds on the ashes to keep the dust to a minimum.
After shoveling or vacuuming the ashes out of the firebox, scrub down the walls with a stiff wire brush. Be careful not to scratch the surface.
The firescreen is most of the time a brass screen or painted metal. If brass, you can clean it like any other brass item. If the firescreen is painted metal, then use 1/2 cup of vinegar in 1 gallon of water. Use a cloth to wash the screen and rinse with warm water.
No fireplace cleaning is complete without washing each of the tools you use to keep your fire going. You can clean these the same way as you did the screen, depending on what the tools are made of. You will also want to check for any damage to the tools. If any are broken, then replace with a new one. Also, check for paint chips or rust, and fix these immediately.
Fireplace cleaning is a necessary part of using your fireplace. It will keep it safe and fully functional for many years. While it can be a messy process, getting rid of the creosote, ash, and soot build up will decrease danger during the next burning season.