You recently installed a new fireplace in your home or backyard. Or maybe you remodeled your old fireplace into something a little newer or more stylish.
Whatever the case, you love to use this appliance to celebrate special occasions, enjoy a relaxing evening, and much more. You’ve even read our previous blogs and used our tips to create family memories around and roast scrumptious treats over your fireplace.
But with all this excitement and enjoyment, you forgot that you need to clean your fireplace. In fact, you can’t recall the last time you brushed and cleared the area in and around your fireplace. You also realize that you don’t really know the best way to clean it.
Below, we’ll tell you why you should clean your fireplace regularly and how to do it.
Why You Should Clean Your Fireplace Often
When you think of cleaning your fireplace and chimney, you probably imagine an iconic scene that features Dick Van Dyke in the film, Mary Poppins. And you likely start to sing “Chim Chim Cher-ee” out of habit.
Though Bert the Chimney Sweep professes to be the world’s happiest bloke as he spends time in the smoke and ashes, his tune makes you realize that your fireplace and chimney contain high amounts of debris and buildup. Should these materials “biller and curl,” you and your family could become injured or ill.
This debris that builds up in your fireplace and chimney, known as creosote, causes serious health problems, including:
- Eye damage
- Increased sunlight sensitivity
- Kidney and liver damage
- Respiratory illness
- Skin irritation
- Stomach pain
Additionally, researchers have discovered that creosote contains many flammable properties. So if the buildup in your chimney were to catch on fire, it could act as a fuel source, burn the rest of your home, and put you and your family in greater danger.
However, you can easily avoid these complications as you regularly clean your fireplace and chimney.
How to Clean Wood- and Pellet-Burning Fireplaces
If you own either of these two fireplaces, then you’ll want to take the following steps to properly clean them.
- Cool the ashes and remaining embers.
Before you can safely remove leftover coals and ashes from your fireplace, you must make sure that they have cooled completely. Wait 24 hours after burning before you remove them from your fireplace.
- Gather the appropriate supplies.
While you wait for thrashes to cool, collect the following cleaning supplies:
- Dustpan and small brush
- Goggles Metal polish (optional)
- Paper towels or rags (for wiping)
- Rubber gloves (like those you would use to protect your hands as you wash dishes)
- Scrub brushes, pads, or other heavy-duty scrubbers
- Small tarp or several large trash bags (to cover the floor)
- Trash can
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP) or baking soda and vinegar
- Vacuum with a hose attachment
- Inspect the chimney and fireplace.
Now that you’ve gathered all the supplies you need, you’ll want to check the flue. Shine flashlight into your chimney and look near the top fora metal door. You’ll also notice a metal chain or lever inside your chimney. Pull this lever to open the flue. This step allows you to see exactly what you need to clean. Make sure to cover your eyes, nose, and mouth before you proceed.
- Remove the soot and ashes thoroughly.
Use a small dustpan and brush to remove the ashes from your fireplace. Or, you can use a small scoop if you prefer. Get rid of as much of the soot as you can, and place the ashes in a trash can. When only a small layer of ash remains, use the hose attachment on your vacuum to dispose of the rest.
- Scrub the grime away.
Once you’ve cleared out the debris, use either of these solutions to wipe away grime:
Add vinegar to an empty spray bottle. Sprinkle baking soda across your fireplace, then spray with vinegar. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes. Then, use a scrub brush to scour the fireplace. Rinse your brush in warm water. Repeat this method until the rinse water runs clear. Mix one cup of bleach, one gallon of warm water, and six tablespoons of TSP together. Spray this solution on your fireplace, and repeat the cleaning methods listed above.
- Rinse down the area.
Now that you’ve thoroughly cleaned your fireplace, you need to rinse off the cleaners. Dip rags in warm water and ring them out in a bucket. Wipe down all surfaces, and repeat until you’ve reached all areas. Also rinse out and wash your cleaning brushes and rags for future use.
To keep you and your loved ones safe from accidental harm or injury, implement the tips listed above. Remember to clean your fireplace regularly and to responsibly dispose of fireplace waste. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your local fireplace manufacturers for more information.