Fireplace Maintenance Tips

Your fireplace needs regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure a safe and efficient fire. Substances like Creo­sote, a flammable tarlike substance, accumulates in the chimney and flue and should be removed by a professional, eliminating the worry of at least one potential fire hazard.

­However, you can do your part to regularly clean your fireplace throughout the wood-burning season to avoid an accumulation of soot, ashes, and creosote tars.

­Here are several cleaning suggestions:

  • Vacuum or dust the hearth area once a week to prevent dust and soot from accumulating. However, take care to not sweep or vacuum until all the embers have been extinguished for at least 12 hours.
  • Burn only seasoned, well-dried wood to minimise dangerous creosote build-up.
  • Inspect the firebox, flue, and chimney once a year for creosote accumulation.
  • Do not use water to drown a fire unless there is an emergency. This will make a paste of the ashes, making it difficult to remove.
  • Never use an abrasive cleanser inside the fireplace. Many leave a flammable residue.
  • When cleaning your fireplace, sprinkle damp coffee grounds over the cooled ashes to keep down the dust.

The Firebox

  • The firebox is the area that contains the fire.
  • Gently scrub the walls of the firebox opening with a stiff-bristle brush (not a wire brush) only to the height of the lintel.
  • If you have a metal firebox, be careful to not bend any edges on a metal firebox where it joins the flue. Bent edges leave openings to the wall stud or supports where fire could spread.
  • If your fireplace does not have an ash pit or box, shovel the bulk of the ashes into a bag and vacuum the remaining lightweight ashes.

The Fire Screen

  • If your fire screen is painted, mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 gallon warm water. Add 1 teaspoon ammonia. Dip a cloth into the solution, and wipe down both sides of the screen. Rinse with a cloth dipped in clear, warm water.

Glass Enclosures

  • If the enclosure of your fire place is glass, clean the glass facing the fire after every other fire to remove the residue of soot.
  • For baked-on soot, scrape the glass very carefully with a glass scraper to avoid scratching the surface.
  • To remove smoke stains, mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1 gallon clear, warm water. Add 1 tablespoon clear ammonia. Either spray this solution on the glass or wipe it on with a cloth dipped in the solution. Rinse with clear, warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.

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