Spring cleaning means getting your rubber gloves on and giving your home a good scrub down! You will undoubtedly dust, vacuum, organize your closets, and declutter as you see fit. However, the one aspect of spring cleaning that often gets overlooked is the fireplace. Few homeowners understand just how much dust, grime, and allergens can accumulate in a fireplace without proper spring cleaning tactics in place. The following article will explain how to clean a fireplace!
Is It Necessary To Clean My Fireplace?
Regardless of how often you use your wood-burning fireplace, leaving it dirty with the soot and grime caked on it is not an option! Many homeowners wrongly believe that it is normal for a fireplace to collect ash and dust after much use. However, opting not to clean your fireplace can result in health and safety risks for you and your family.
One of the biggest problems with an unclean fireplace is chimney fires. Though the firebox controls the fire, creosote can accumulate in your chimney flue after repeated burnings. The caked-on creosote may ignite when exposed to high temperatures, and of course, cause damage to brickwork and the very foundation of your home!
The more creosote collects in your chimney flue, the higher the risk for a potential fire in your home. At first glance, you may not think this soot collection is a problem, but eventually, if left unclean, your chimney will no longer have the ability to control your fires.
A second risk you face is entirely health-related when you don’t properly clean your fireplace. Whether you have asthma or not, breathing in the particulate matter left behind by your wood-burning stove may result in severe breathing problems down the line. The soot, ash, and organic matter left behind by fire are constantly present in the air you breathe unless adequately contained and cleaned.
Related: Easy steps to repair your fireplace.
Steps To Cleaning Your Fireplace Properly
Step 1: Removing The Ash
Ash cleaning is the first step in ensuring that your fireplace is safe to operate. If you’re planning on using your fireplace shortly after cleaning, you may leave a small layer of ash inside of your firebox. Leaving ash behind will make it easier to ignite the wood and ensure proper airflow underneath.
If you’re no longer looking to use your fireplace for the season, make sure to remove all of the ashes found in the firebox promptly. You will need to manually scoop it out using a metal shovel and a fireproof container or bucket. It’s essential to wait at least 48 hours after your last fire burning to scoop out the ash as it may still ignite if left unattended.
Just use your shovel to scoop out the ashes into your fireproof container gently. Does your fireplace have an ash dump door? If so, you can use it to help the process go faster. However, do still wait for the appropriate time to ensure that the ashes no longer have the ability to ignite.
While it is safe to vacuum ash, never use your house cleaning vacuum cleaner as it can ignite and burn down your house!
Step 2: Cleaning Up Soot
To clean soot, you will find several readily available commercial-grade cleaning agents. However, it is essential to note that the CSIA-compliant method is mechanical brushing to clean creosote properly. Though chemicals may offer a reasonably decent cleaning job, thorough professional brushing is the only accurate way to ensure the health and safety of your family.
As you wait for your professional cleaner to show up, there are still a few things you can do well on your own. Using an old piece of cloth and a wire brush, make sure to thoroughly clean any grates and andirons that are present on your fireplace. Never use water as it can cause the metal to rust and corrode well before its time. If you need a cleaning agent of any type, make sure to use a brass polish, if applicable, vegetable oil or steel wool to give your andirons a polished look.
It’s essential to pay attention to your health and safety when attempting to clean the soot from your fireplace. Once again, breathing in these particles causes severe respiratory irritation. Thus, do not attempt to clean soot without the proper equipment and safety gear. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and when in doubt, it’s best to let professionals handle the cleaning.
Step 3: Properly Cleaning Glass
Some wood-burning stoves and many gas fireplaces employ glass to add an extra layer of protection. Over time, this glass can get marred by caked-on soot, grime, and other particulates. Gas fireplaces will often cause the glass to become cloudy or have a thin layer of gloss.
It’s best to remove the glass insert from your fireplace and make it a point to clean it outdoors. Taking this extra step will eliminate simply spreading the soot around in your fireplace.
Never use any window cleaners that specifically contain ammonia. Look around for specially formulated glass cleaning agents, or use vinegar to give your glass insert a thorough cleaning. Regularly cleaning the glass will ensure your fires look more ambient and you have a much clearer view of the inside of your firebox.
Step 4: Properly Cleaning Your Brick
Ageing brickwork is especially hard and demanding to tackle when cleaning. In any case, avoid using harsh chemicals such as ammonia to clean bricks. The safest way to clean brickwork is to use a mild dishwashing detergent and some elbow grease!
Mix some water and a mild detergent and apply to the brickwork using a spray bottle. Then, use a scrub brush to spread the solution around and remove the filmy soot layer. In most instances, this will do a decent job of removing the buildup.
How to Clean a Fireplace – Professional Cleaning Is The Safest Way!
Make sure you let a professional CSIA-certified cleaner handle cleaning the firebox and the rest of your fireplace. Professionals have the necessary skills, equipment, and expertise to ensure that your fireplace doesn’t suffer any significant damage in the process.
Most importantly, having a professional inspect your flue can help prevent potential home fires. As they can look at the inside of your flue, they can also detect if there was ever the start of a fire and pinpoint signs of danger.
Get help today and have one of our friendly CSIA technicians inspect and clean your fireplace! It’s best to get peace of mind when it comes to the health and safety of your home, which is why you should act quickly and responsibly.