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As the weather cools and fall approaches, you might be thinking about how to cozy up your home. From inviting home décor to the scents that seem to welcome in the season, it’s a time of year many get excited about. One of the things many homeowners look forward to doing is starting up their fireplace for the first time.
However, it’s likely they’ve been sitting unused since the seasons changed from winter to spring. Even outdoor fireplaces should be cleaned regularly. Thankfully, this is a job most homeowners can do themselves. If you’re preparing your home for the cold weather ahead, don’t forget to include a fireplace cleaning.
One of the first steps of ensuring your fireplace is ready for use is an inspection. If you’ve noticed that something is cracked or broken, you’ll need an expert to help. Contact a masonry contractor today for up to four quotes from pros in your area, for free.
Why Clean Your Fireplace?
Brick fireplaces are beautiful features to have in any home. Not only do they bring a nice glow to space, but it can also help to warm your home and reduce energy costs. However, fireplaces can only function optimally when they’ve been properly maintained.
Fireplaces should be fully cleaned at least once a year, with regular ash removal between burnings. Logs that are burned leave ashes and soot behind. When it’s built up, it can not only create a mess in your home, but a fire hazard as well. Over time, the residue will start to build-up on the brick, leaving it looking dirty, regardless if you’ve just removed excess ash. A thorough cleaning will keep it looking fresh.
When you decide to start regularly cleaning your fireplace, you are met with what seems like endless options. A great way to make this decision a little easier is deciding if you want to go with a commercially-made cleaner, or if you’ll be using a green cleaner you can make right at home. If you decide to use a commercially-made cleaner, you’ll want to follow the manufacturers instructions. If you’re looking for a DIY alternative, we’re here to help!
- Plastic gloves
- Cream of Tartar
- Damp Rag
- Mop Bucket
Step 1: Inspect Your Fireplace
If you’re cleaning your fireplace annually or bi-annually, it’s the perfect time to perform a basic inspection. This will allow you to catch any potential problems before they worsen. You'll enjoy your fireplace much more when you’re certain it’s safe. Here’s what to look for:
- Check for cracks or damage to brick both inside and outside of the firebox.
- Open and close the flue damper, making sure it’s working properly.
- Look up into the chimney. You should be able to see light at the top of your chimney is clear of debris.
- Make sure the glass or screen is not damaged.
If you notice that there is any damage or anything out of the ordinary, you must contact a pro who can help. The average cost of fireplace repairs is $393, with most homeowners spending between $171 and $334. You might also consider having your chimney inspected at this time too, which should be done by a contractor.
Step 2: Remove Dust & Soot
Once you’ve completed your fireplace inspection, it’s time to get cleaning! Start by using your brush and dustpan to remove the soot from the bottom of your fireplace. Be careful not to brush too hard, as the ash can spread. You may want to use a mask and gloves for this to avoid breathing it in or getting the soot on your hands.
Next, with a damp rag, wipe off the brick both inside and out. This is just a light dusting to remove any grime sitting on the surface.
Step 3: Spot Clean Your Fireplace
Brick fireplaces are susceptible to black spots from the smoke. A great remedy to remove some of these marks from your brick is with ingredients you likely have at home already. Creating a paste of cream of tartar and water will be just what you need to draw the stain out. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons to a small dish and apply it to areas on the brick that are discolored. Let it sit for 15 minutes or more, depending on how dark the stain is. Use the damp cloth again to wipe clean.
Repeat if the stains aren’t lifting. Set in stains might need the help of a pro for removal.
Step 4: Clean Your Fireplace
Now that your fireplace is stain free, you’ll want to give it a good scrub with an eco-friendly solution. You may already have white vinegar from other DIY cleaning uses. Mix one part vinegar to three parts water in a bucket. Using a sponge, wipe your brick both in and around your fireplace. You don’t have to scrub the solution in for it to work; it’s best to be gentle.
Step 5: Let It Dry
Once you’re finished, let the bricks dry. It should take a few hours. If possible, sweep and vacuum the floor around the fireplace to catch any ash or soot that may have spread as you were cleaning. Once it’s completed, you can enjoy your fireplace again.
One day of cleaning can provide many months of relaxation. You’ll be cozying up to a nice, warm fireplace in no time with these DIY cleaning tips. Not to mention you can take comfort in knowing that it’s a safe, clean feature all can enjoy.
Looking for more DIY inspiration for your fireplace? Read How To Build A Mantel.