Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget the Fireplace!

Like other areas of the home, cleaning the fireplace is also an essential aspect of regular home maintenance. And while a well-maintained and clean fireplace is always a welcome addition to a home, one that is neglected can quickly become a serious hazard.

However, homeowners can rest assured that spring cleaning the fireplace is not only easy, but when done correctly, will also give them the satisfaction of knowing that one of the likely dirtiest places at home is now spotless.

Given below are some of the most effective DIY fireplace cleaning tips which can apply to both wood burning as well as gas fireplaces. When in doubt, acquire the services of a fireplace and chimney professional.

Wood Burning Fireplace Maintenance Tips

First, let’s take a look at how to clean a wood burning fireplace.

Prevent Creosote Buildup

Creosote is a flammable, tar-like substance which piles up in the chimney and flue over time. The buildup can be prevented by burning seasoned wood only. This is because “Green” wood produces a lot more smoke as compared to dry wood, which then leads to creosote accumulation.

Cleaning the fireplaceCreosote buildup is classified in three degrees. The classification depends on the extent of the buildup within the chimney.

  • The first degree contains a high percentage of soot which can be removed fairly effectively with a chimney brush.
  • Second degree creosote buildup cleanup can become trickier as the accumulation starts to resemble dry, hard tar flakes and not just soot.
  • Third degree creosote buildup is the toughest to remove as it looks like tar coating or running down the inside of the chimney. At this stage, the buildup is concentrated fuel which keeps getting thicker and harder as it recoats the chimney surface repeatedly.

 

Ash Cleanup

Ash is the natural residue from burning logs. As a result, it can accumulate fairly quickly. Frequent cleaning is required and can be done by cleaning out the firebox after every use of the fireplace. This step requires using a shovel or some similar device to remove the ashes.

Dirty Surround

An accumulation of soot and smoke on the surround is often caused by a clogged flue or an unopened damper. Check to make sure if these issues are factoring into the accumulation. Then, put on rubber gloves and use a brush and masonry cleaner to sweep the mess from the area. Cleaning the fireplace surround will also keep your room looking neat and tidy.

Fireplace Doors

Glass doors in front of wood burning fireplaces will become occluded overtime. To minimize this obstructing effect, it is recommended to regularly clean the doors with a non-ammonia cleaner followed by wiping with kitchen towels or an old newspaper. Take care never to use an abrasive cleaner as it may leave flammable residue behind.

Gas Fireplace Maintenance Tips

Cleaning the fireplaceFor the most part, a gas fireplace does not create as big a mess as its wood burning counterpart. Plus, it does not produce any smoke or other byproducts.  However, having said that, it does not mean the fireplace doesn’t require periodic cleaning and maintenance.

To keep your gas fireplace in excellent working condition, follow these simple steps:

Perform General Maintenance

Visually inspect the unit prior to each burning session. If any issues are detected, maintenance should always be done when the unit is cool and all energy sources shut off. This can include checking for indoor circulation fans, external venting and properly adjusted gas burners.

Clean Glass Doors

Glass doors should be cleaned in the same manner as those on a wood burning fire. If doors are removable, cleaning will be a lot easier when they are detached.

Debris Cleanup

Unlike a wood burning fireplace, a gas fireplace does not come with a firebox filled with ash. Instead, cleaning the fireplace will be as simple as periodic vacuuming.

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