Is your fireplace not looking the greatest? Every fireplace owner should be investing in annual inspections between burning seasons, but if your know you’ll still be putting your system to use for a while yet, then you’re probably not ready to call the pros in yet.
So, what can be done in the meantime to keep you system looking better? Well, while nothing can top a professional cleaning by a certified sweep, there are things you can do as a homeowner to keep your system looking fresher, cleaner, and more polished.
First Things First…
Before doing any cleaning on your fireplace, remember to wait at least 24 hours after putting out your last first to get started. This ensures no one involved in the process gets accidentally burned, and it minimizes the risk of coming across any stray embers that are still alive and buried within your ash pile.
Removing Fireplace Ash
Now, if you own a wood-burning fireplace, then you’re no stranger to big ash piles. Regularly clearing out ash keeps your fireplace grate in better shape (as the acidity from the ash can cause it to rust and disintegrate), and it ensures you have plenty of room for fuel and future fires, too.
That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach the ash removal process, and not taking the proper precautions can put you at risk. For instance, some think simply vacuuming them is okay, when this is actually a huge fire hazard!
When it comes to fireplace ash, embers can stay hot and alive inside ash for days on end, so you’ll want to remove any ash with a metal scoop, then place it in a metal bucket that has a raised bottom, a handle, and a tight-fitting lid.
Once the ash is sealed inside, place the bucket outside on a non-flammable surface (like brick or concrete), and don’t dispose of the ashes for a few days. This will ensure everything is adequately burnt out before being thrown away.
Not sure what to do with your ash once it has cooled? If you don’t want to throw it away, you can always add it to soil to raise pH levels, put it around your garden to deter snails and slugs, use it to remove oil stains in your driveway, or you can even use it to clean your glass fireplace doors! (More on that later.) There are actually lots of uses for ash, so do some research to see how you might be able to reuse it.
Did You Know…
When removing ash from your fireplace, it’s beneficial to leave a small, 1-inch layer behind! It will help you out when lighting future fires, and it also keeps your firebox floor better protected. The one exception is at the end of your burning season… Then, all ash should be removed, so that any leftovers don’t draw in moisture that can damage your system.
Cleaning Fireplace Glass Doors
Are your fireplace glass doors stained or smudged? A nice, clear glass gives a great view of your fireplace, but if your doors are covered in soot and other buildup, it can put a damper on your entire burning experience. Now, there are lots of effective products out there that can clean your doors, but our suggested method requires something you should already have on hand – fireplace ash.
That’s right. Countless homeowners have found that a rolled up ball of damp newspaper, fireplace ash, and a bit of elbow grease is the best way to get rid of unsightly stains on your doors! Just dip the damp newspaper in the ash, then gently scrub away.
And once this is done, mix together equal parts of vinegar and water, then use this mixture and a paper towel to really make your glass shine!
Cleaning Your Brick
Do your bricks need some TLC, too? Mix together a mild solution of dish soap and warm water, then use a scrub brush to clean off any smoke stains or soot. If this doesn’t work, you can try something a bit stronger, but we recommend keeping the chemicals as mild as possible to avoid any potential damage.
Some also use salt when cleaning brick. It can be effective thanks to its abrasive nature!
Whatever you use, be sure to rinse it off with warm water at the end of it all, so no chemicals or films remain behind.
Chimney Sweeping Logs… Are They Worth It?
Most fireplace owners have heard of chimney sweeping logs, and since we’re on the subject of cleaning, we figure we might as well bring them up. The biggest question homeowners have in regards to these products is… are they really worth it?
Honestly, probably not. They aren’t known for harming chimneys, but all they’ll really do is loosen up your soot and creosote, so that it flakes and falls down into your firebox. And there it will stay until a professional can clean it out.
Many assume they can burn a chimney sweeping log and skip the professional sweeping, but this is simply not the case, and doing so will leave you at risk of experiencing a chimney fire.
Basically… use them if you’d like to! Just remember to get that sweeping booked, too.
Need Professional Care? We’re Here for You
Like we mentioned at the start of this post, none of the things mentioned here should be considered a substitute for a professional sweeping. During these, your sweep uses specialized tools to ensure all flammable creosote is removed, and they can keep an eye out for any other potential threats and damages, too.
If you need care, give our crew a call today or simply reach out online, and we’ll get back to you when we can. Thanks for choosing The Chimney Doctor for it all!