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Spring Cleaning - Maintaining Your Fireplace for Safety and Health Reasons

Updated on March 21, 2011

Cleaning your chimney gives you many benefits:

keeps the chimney and fireplace in good working order

helps it work more efficiently

prevents fires

creates a healthier, cleaner environment

Each type of fireplace requires different ways to clean it.

Make sure the chimney is cold and so are the ashes before you begin cleaning.

remove everything around the base of the fireplace

put down old sheets, a plastic tarp, or a plastic shower curtain to protect the floor around the fireplace

remove the fireplace grate, and use an abrasive cleaner and then wipe it down with a damp cloth

if you have a shop vacuum you can suck up the ashes and debris from the fireplace. Do not use a regular vacuum, the fine ashes can clog the filter and make the vacuum inoperable. Use a vacuum at least a week after the fireplace has not been used. Some coals can be hot for several days after the fire is out, and hot coals can be a danger to the vacuum or cause a fire.

if you don’t have a shop vacuum, use a broom and sweep the soot into a plastic garbage bag.

wipe the bottom, walls, and inside base of the fireplace with a damp cloth.

mix a squirt or two of soap with a gallon of warm water in a bucket.

use a scrub brush with a handle and a bucket filled with warm water and detergent and scrub the floor of the fireplace and rinse

repeat for each side wall of the fireplace

take a wet sponge or a cloth moistened with water and go over the areas just cleaned

wipe dry with a towel

it is also a good idea to have your chimney inspected every year or two by a professional

Keep Your Fireplace Clean

Get Rid of Creosote

It is good to clean your chimney at least once a year. Before the winter months, make sure it is clean and ready for use.. After the season, it is a good idea to rid the fireplace of the debris from the colder months.

Make sure your fireplace is clean:

to prevent fires

to avoid carcinogens produced from the by products of the burnt logs

to help the fireplace running efficiently

Have your chimney checked every year for blockages. Squirrels, birds, and raccoons can cause the chimney to get blocked whey they build nests and create additional debris around the chimney. Should you see any animals like these in and around your chimney, it may especially mean to look into this further. It is important to keep your chimney free of obstacles so that there is a proper flow from the fireplace to the outside of the house. A chimney cap is good protection from the animal nests being built on your chimney and causing obstructions.

More cleaning tips:

To clean the brass around the fireplace use a toothbrush and some worcestershire sauce to shine up all the brass areas and tools.

Do not use an abrasive cleaner on the fireplace tools, it may scratch the finish.

try to avoid burning a fire continuously for more than 5 hours.

when the fireplace is in use, always keep the door open for proper venting

keep the screen closed to prevent the hot embers from leaving the fireplace area.

it is good caution to have a fire retardant carpeting in the event burning sparks jump out of the fireplace

never leave the fireplace unattended

slate exterior hearths can be cleaned with lemon juice

gas logs should be cleaned once a month once they are cooled. Use a soft scrub brush

Did you know? >>> During the colder months, when the fireplace is in use, keep a coat of ash (about an inch thick) on the bottom of the fireplace as insulation, and to help heat the fireplace faster. In the months the fireplace is not in use, clean out all the ash. When you are cleaning the ash, open the damper so that loose flying ash goes up the fireplace, and not out into the room area.

It is important to clean your fireplace often to get rid of the creosote. Creosote is what is leftover after the wood logs have burned. Creosote accumulates on the bottom of the fireplace and also sits in the liner of the chimney.

Regular cleaning and maintence of your fireplace is an important routine to do in your home.


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    • rhondavous profile image

      rhondavous 6 years ago from Along the Coast of the Atlantic Ocean

      Hi Agvulpes,

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I am glad you found these tips helpful.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 6 years ago from Australia

      These are great tips. I have seen many fires start due to poor chimney maintenance:-)