There is nothing cozier than a pleasant sitting near a burning fireplace. However, the fire leaves behind ash and soot residue that leaves traces on the chimney and accumulates over time.
How often should a fireplace be cleaned?
A thorough cleaning of the fireplace should be done annually, because accumulations of soot and ash are a fire hazard. It is advisable to do the cleaning before or after the heating season. Keeping your fireplace clean will not only keep it looking good, but also safe and functional.
How do I clean my fireplace?
Step 1: Prepare the space
Before you start cleaning your fireplace, it’s important to make sure that any small items that can get dirty and dusty are removed. If there are pieces of furniture near the fireplace, you need to move them at least 3 meters away.
Furniture that cannot be moved can be covered with plastic sheeting. Several garbage bags should be placed next to the fireplace to quickly dispose of the ash and soot.
Step 2: Removing and Cleaning the Grate
Before you start cleaning the inside of the fireplace, you need to remove the grate and clean it. You should gently sweep away all the soot and ash, and then wash the grate with a cleaning solution. To prepare it, it is enough to mix a few drops of dishwashing detergent with a small amount of water.
You can apply the mixture to the grate with a stiff brush. After cleaning, you should rinse off the solution, wipe the grate dry, and set it aside until the rest of the fireplace has been cleaned.
Step 3: Cleaning up the ashes
Use a small broom or vacuum cleaner to remove any ashes that have accumulated on the bottom of the fireplace. It is much quicker to get rid of the ash with a hand-held vacuum attachment.
Step 4: Cleaning the fireplace
It is convenient to clean the top and inside with a dry nylon brush or similar brush with stiff bristles. It is necessary to gradually lower the surface of the fireplace so that soot and creosote will fall to the bottom. After the fireplace is cleaned, you should vacuum the bottom or remove all the dirt with a broom.
Step 5: Preparing a stain solution
Now that the fireplace is cleaned of surface dirt, it’s time to get rid of the old and hard to remove stains. To make the detergent mixture, mix equal parts vinegar and warm water together with 2-3 tablespoons of dishwashing detergent in a large bucket. The mixture should then be poured into an empty spray can.
Step 6: Spraying the solution
Spray the cleaning solution all over the floor and walls of the fireplace. It is important to give the product a few minutes to allow it to thoroughly soak the bricks. Then you can proceed to clean the dirt with a stiff-bristle brush soaked in the cleaning solution. Once all the stains have been removed, all excess liquid and dirt should be removed with a clean cloth.
Step 7: Cleaning the doors and trim
If the fireplace has doors, you can wash them with a glass cleaning solution. A solution of one part water and one part white vinegar will do a good job on tough dirt. The same cleaning solution that was used to remove stains will work for cleaning the fireplace liner.
Causes of contamination
The main causes of pollution in fireplaces and stoves are:
- Poor quality firewood. Raw firewood leads to the formation of large amounts of tar and other components that remain inside the fireplace or in the chimney, preventing the free flow of air masses and the escape of smoke.
- Mechanical clogs. Chimney parts of twigs, leaves, various debris brought to the roof of the house by birds can get into the chimney, resulting in the system ceasing to function properly due to clogs.
- Improper operation of the fireplace. A fireplace is not a universal stove and should not be used to burn household trash or products not meant to be disposed of in this way, such as packages or food scraps.
- Frequent smoldering of embers. Continuous smoldering of embers, if not used carefully, causes significant gas build-up and, as a result, a rapid accumulation of tar, soot, and other hazardous elements in the chimney pipe
Consequences of contamination of the fireplace and chimney
In the presence of the causes listed above, the chimney gradually fails, requiring repair or complete replacement. The most common signs indicating the need for cleaning are an increase in the amount of fuel at a constant intensity of fireplace use and an unpleasant smell. Less commonly, the appearance of smoke in the room when the fireplace is running and extraneous noise.
Consequences of contamination:
- Soot builds up and can ignite, leading to a fire and a dwelling fire;
- Release of small combustible particles from the chimney which, if released onto the roof, may cause it to catch fire;
- The draught is impaired. As a result, the chimney and heat generator overheat and fail. Also, hazardous combustible contaminants are formed, provoking other problems in operation;
- The performance and efficiency of the fireplace as a whole is reduced, and the room is poorly heated;
- Chimney failure.
Preparing for cleaning
Preparing for cleaning involves some obligatory steps to perform. First of all, it is necessary to cover all pieces of furniture, interior and, if possible, floors in the room with a film, the floor around the fireplace additionally cover with newspapers or paper. Before cleaning, you should wait at least 10 hours to stop the burning and smoldering fuel in the fireplace. For cleaning, prepare in advance a small scoop or spatula with a handy handle for shoveling out the ash, thick gloves for your hands, and thick bags with ties or buckets with lids for disposal of the collected debris. When cleaning a fireplace, first remove ash from the main part of the fireplace structure and outside the wood grate, then you can clean the fireplace and chimney of soot and other elements.