As cooler weather quickly approaches, it’s a good time to begin thinking about the care and cleaning of your fireplace. Cleaning the chimney flue is a job some would rather leave to the professionals, but you can do it yourself with the right equipment. Cleaning and caring for other fireplace components is a job anyone can do, and you can keep your fireplace looking good and working properly with a few simple steps.
Cleaning the Firebox
Cleaning the firebox can be a messy job, but a shop vacuum makes the job much easier. Before vacuuming or sweeping out the firebox, scrub the walls with a vacuum brush attachment or stiff bristle brush.
If you don’t have a shop vacuum, place a sheet of damp newsprint over the ashes before removing them. Doing so will help keep the dust down.
As dark and dirty as it may be, don’t be tempted to wash the firebrick or blocks with water. Washing the brick can lower the amount of heat retained.
Checking and Cleaning the Chimney Flue
A chimney flue should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year, depending on how often you build fires. If you build fires on a regular basis, clean the chimney flue more frequently to avoid the dangerous build-up of creosote.
Check the build-up of creosote on a regular basis by simply scratching the surface of the damper and interior chimney walls. A very thin build-up is acceptable, but if the build-up is 1/8 inch thick, it should be removed as soon as possible. Any thicker and you shouldn’t use your fireplace until it has been properly cleaned.
If you aren’t inclined to scale your roof or have a fear of heights, hire a professional chimney sweep to clean your chimney flue. Look in your local yellow pages under chimney cleaning, and hire someone to properly do the job.
If you want to attempt cleaning the flue yourself, you’ll need chimney cleaning brushes and rods. They are available in stores that sell fireplace equipment, or you can buy them online. Consider shopping online for all of your fireplace needs. You’ll find the best prices without leaving the comfort of your home, and your order will be delivered directly to your door.
How to Clean Accessories
Iron fireplace tools sometimes become caked with sticky residue, and they can be effectively cleaned with kerosene. Make very certain the kerosene has dried before using the tools or placing them near an open flame.
Regularly dust iron and brass fireplace accessories and screens, and wash brass surfaces occasionally with warm soapy water. Always rinse and dry them thoroughly.
Cleaning and Caring for the Hearth
If you have a slate hearth, keep it clean by washing the slate about once a month or as often as necessary with warm soapy water. Dry it thoroughly, and apply a coating of citrus oil with a clean soft cloth. Your hearth will look brilliantly clean, and your home will smell citrus fresh.