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How to Clean Your Fireplace Effectively and Efficiently

A crackling fire will always feel like heaven especially in a cold winter night. Using it more often, however, can cause soot and other toxic, tarry deposits around the fireplace. If you want to bring back the real beauty of your fireplace and maintain it longer, here are some tips on how to clean your fireplace effectively and efficiently.

The comforting warmth and glow of a fire is one of nature's most wonderful presents to us. If you have a fireplace, cleaning it regularly makes the fire burn the wood more efficiently and prevent extreme creosote build-up to catch fire and seriously damage your home. Though it might be a good idea to have a professional inspect your fireplace and chimney (it is also very ideal, too), cleaning it on your own is not at all possible. Below are some tips and basic procedures on how to clean your fireplace effectively.

Inspect from Time to Time

When it comes to cleaning the chimney, there's no rule-of-thumb as to how often you should. The problem is, however, when creosote forms when tar vapors condense inside the flue - which can lead to a chimney fire. To prevent this from happening, always do an inspection after some time to check dangerous condensed creosotes. 

To do this, use a poker or other metal instrument to scrape the creosote off of the lining. Just take caution as creosote can be hazardous to your health. Take note of its appearance; when the build-up is film-thin then you can hold off on the task. If the layer is 1/8 inch it means that you can still use the fireplace but you have to clean it very soon. When the the layer becomes thicker than 1/4 of an inch then cleaning should be done before the next use.

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Protect the Surrounding Area

Before starting, wear an apron or wear old clothes to protect yourself from debris and dirt. To protect the surrounding area, lay a tarp down on the floor around the fireplace. Cleaning it can be really messy and soot can be very difficult to remove from clothes and carpets. If you don't have any tarp, you can use old clothes or towels you're not keen of using again. Just don't wear or use clothing that you're attached to as it is most likely to get ruined in the process.

Remove Debris from the Fireplace

Take away chunks of old wood and other debris prior to cleaning. If there is any wood that can still be used in the future, simply set it aside. Don't forget to wear some cleaning gloves before removing debris avoid dirt from sticking to your hands. For very loose debris, you might want to use a vacuum cleaner.

Clean your Chimney from Top to Bottom

Use a small brush in sweeping the chimney from top to bottom. By cleaning it this way, you will give the buildup a more solid texture, preventing ashes from scattering in the air. The doorway of the chimney should be cleaned as well. If you have coffee grounds, you can use it by scattering it over the ashes, this will give ashes a more solid texture for easier cleaning.

Spray Down the Fireplace With An All-Purpose Cleaner

To soften the thick layer, spritz some cleaner inside the fireplace. When the area becomes wet, the cleaning process will be much easier. Just make sure that you have the entire inside of the fireplace sprayed on before proceeding.

Use an Abrasive Tool to Clean your Fireplace

Now here comes the fun part. Using an abrasive tool and an effective cleaner (whether home-made or bought from the store), you can start cleaning the surface of your fireplace. Dip your brush or tool in the cleaner and start scrubbing in a firm but not too hard manner. Use circular motions when applying until the fireplace is completely covered.

Don't forget to let the cleaner sit for 10 to 15 minutes. If the stains are very bad, you can let it sit for 30 minutes maximum. When you're using a store-bought cleaning product, check the instructions carefully. You can then wipe the surface with clean cloth and water. If the dirt is very bad, it may take you to clean it twice or even thrice.

Maintaining the Cleanliness of the Fireplace

Now that you know how to clean your fireplace effectively and efficiently, now you have to learn how to maintain its cleanliness.

Here are three tips.

Go For Drywood

Dry wood burns more efficiently than it's regular counterparts. It also doesn't emit too much smoke, cutting down the staining problem.

Vacuum the Fireplace Weekly

Sweeping and removing debris from the fireplace can be a daunting task, that's why you have to vacuum it on a weekly basis. However, wait for 12 hours after using the fireplace before vacuuming so it's complete dry and to make sure there are no burning embers left.

Don't Hose the Fireplace Down

Do not use water to drown the fire. Water will make a paste out of the ashes, making it difficult to get rid of. Use water only on emergency situations.

We hope that we've helped you with our step-by-step process on how to clean your fireplace effectively. If you're planning to renovate your fireplace in Donegal, we at McMonagles can help.

About the Author Karen Lavin

With expertise in stone choice, colour & finishing options, Karens knowledge is across the McMonagle range from hearths, to mantles, bespoke fireplaces to kitchen countertops.

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